To repeal or not to repeal
“If it is me alone, I shall walk!”
With this bold declaration Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is already lacing up her marching shoes and preparing to make a “B-line” straight for Government Headquarters this Thursday.
Her stated mission is to secure a repeal of the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax, which Ms Mottley suggests is nothing short of unfair.
In its place, we note that the Opposition Leader is now recommending what she sees as a “fairer” levy on water bills, but that is another matter entirely for us to tackle on another day –– except to say that a clear explanation would need to be given of how exactly the water tax would be applied.
But even before that, one would have thought that the ultimate reason for seeking repeal in the first place would be to have us all avoid any further taxation. We also note that at the same time the BLP leader was announcing her new tax proposal last night, Barbados Economic Society president Jeremy Stephen was making a seemingly identical proposal as he addressed a meeting of the St James South Branch of the Democratic Labour Party under the chairmanship of Donville Inniss. Mere coincidence, or is it a case of more in the mortar?
Enough on that for now.
Getting back to Miss Mottley and her efforts to see the back of the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, the more pertinent question: is will she get the desired outcome? Only time will tell.
We have already had the Government, through the Minister of Finance, put squarely on the table the Freundel Stuart administration’s position on the levy.
It is essentially that Government needs to find a way to pay for the burgeoning cost of solid waste disposal. Therefore, while it remains open to considering exemptions, there is no immediate plan for an all-out removal of the tax.
Nevertheless, Ms Mottley would be buoyed by the recent success achieved in getting the Cabinet to soften its hand on the issue. Indeed, the Opposition Leader may want to take some of the credit for at least inciting public outrage on this matter and keeping it in the forefront, even though Government may more readily admit that the recent changes had more to do with the direct appeals of its constituents than the valiant political efforts of Ms Mottley and her gang.
However, the Opposition Leader’s ultimate success or failure on this issue could ride on her ability to get her own party to “rub shoulders’” with her on this vexed national issue, which is also proving to be the source of internal divide and conflict.
We have already taken note of the fact that it started out as an Owen Arthur-led BLP appeal for exemption initiative, which was quickly and unceremoniously overtaken by Ms Mottley, who transformed it into her own total municipal tax recall campaign.
But this has not been without some degree of internal fallout. Besides Mr Arthur, who has publicly warned Ms Mottley that under the Standing Orders Of The House, Financial Provisions Section 61 (3), the Cabinet of Barbados is the only grouping to repeal the tax, Kerrie Symmonds has also been at odds with her on this matter.
Just yesterday, Mr Symmonds dealt her a very telling public blow through the withdrawal of his support for last night’s Carlisle Car Park meeting, called to press for a repeal of the tax.
Said Symmonds in explaining his position on the issue: “I am going to be brutally frank . . . . I do not propose, because I am uncomfortable about the situation . . . I will not be speaking on the Labour Party platform this evening.
“I have to be able to take this issue very seriously. It is not about inciting public outrage alone. Barbados has a problem with public waste disposal.”
In a week when rumours and innuendoes abound of an iron-fisted “fall-in-line” approach and a meeting that never was, it remains to be seen who shall walk with Ms Mottley, and if indeed she can gain the necessary traction come Thursday, for her efforts not to be seen as yet another unnecessary and unfulfilled ultimatum.