PM: Give municipal tax a chance

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says his Government is willing to review the controversial municipal tax, but it will stay for now, and he is pleading with Barbadians to give it  a chance.

As former prime minister Owen Arthur prepares to fight the battle of the underprivileged in his constituency who cannot afford to pay the tax, Stuart said those who faced genuine hardship could get relief, as is the case with land tax.

And although admitting that the timing of the tax may be “unfortunate”, he said he believed that with the passage of time people would understand the tax better and “we will be one happy family again”.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

“I don’t want Barbadians to be too agitated about the municipal solid waste tax. If it is thought that the tax is wreaking hardship not contemplated by the Government at the moment of its imposition, the Government, after we’ve seen how it is operating, will revisit it,” he told Barbadian media at the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa where he was attending the 35th CARICOM Heads of Government Conference.

Drawing reference to the powers of the Minister of Finance, under the Municipal Solid Waste Tax Act to use his discretion to exempt payment of the tax where hardship is most evident – which Stuart acknowledged was the plank of Arthur’s mobilization against the tax – Stuart said: “I don’t think that there is any need for agitation at the moment.”

“Perhaps one of the unfortunate features of this tax is the timing of it. It comes at a time when the country is passing through other challenges and people are not disaggregating these challenges and separating out particular measures on their own merits,” he added.

Stuart’s comments came a day after Arthur opened his St Peter constituency office to pensioners, unemployed persons, individuals in single parent households and returning nationals so they could provide information and sign letters, which will be forwarded to the Minister of Finance, seeking relief from paying the tax.

The prime minister was also speaking ahead of another march organised by political activist and attorney-at-law Robert “Bobby” Clarke which has as one of its central components strong opposition to the tax.

Clarke, in a press release yesterday, described the tax as “misconceived, oppressive and extremely anti-working class” and said marchers would be demanding that it be cancelled.

But defending the decision to impose the tax on homeowners, Stuart said Government needs taxes to run the country.

“High levels of governmental performance come with a price,” he said, as he dismissed suggestions that the tax caught people off-guard and that people did not understand its purpose.

“Until the moment came when people got their bills there was calm in Barbados. The moment you get the bills you hear that people don’t know what it’s about, how it’s unfair and all of that.

“I don’t know of any tax that is fair because people wish they didn’t have to pay any taxes at all. I certainly wish I didn’t have to pay any, but I know that that’s how governments carry out their educational, health, transport and other programmes in the society,” the Prime Minister added.

Stuart said the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) had become very expensive to run, with transfers to that government agency increasing.

He said his administration had to take a decision at some stage to confront the issue of solid waste management and “the time was right” for a tax to deal with some of the challenges posed by solid waste.

The deadline for the payment of the first installment of the tax is July 28.

dawneparris@barbadostoday.bb

 

 

5 Responses to PM: Give municipal tax a chance

  1. Margaret Lorde
    Margaret Lorde July 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

    A chance to do what exactly…fail in epic proportions much like the increase in every other tax we have on the books along with the MTFP? Imagine vat receipts being down and vat is on everything so this waste tax is a punishment on those Barbadians who dared to own a piece of the rock…whatever happened to housing every last person? I guess now more people will rent rather than own which further puts the economy in peril because with mortgages down and delinquency high banks and lending agencies will earn less which will lead to more job losses earning the government less revenue all around.
    Enough is enough stand your ground refuse the taxation abuse.

    Reply
  2. Margaret Lorde
    Margaret Lorde July 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

    A chance to do what exactly…fail in epic proportions much like the increase in every other tax we have on the books along with the MTFP? Imagine vat receipts being down and vat is on everything so this waste tax is a punishment on those Barbadians who dared to own a piece of the rock…whatever happened to housing every last person? I guess now more people will rent rather than own which further puts the economy in peril because with mortgages down and delinquency high banks and lending agencies will earn less which will lead to more job losses earning the government less revenue all around.
    Enough is enough stand your ground refuse the taxation abuse.

    Reply
  3. Tony Webster July 5, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I am not a “classical scholar”, as some others are, but I do have a dim recollection of one Mr. Shylock, who thought he was so smart, that he would make a dear friend whom was indebted to him, PAY-UP . So the security , was made to be a pound of flesh. And when he couldn’t pay, Comrade Shylock attempted to collect his POUND OF FLESH.
    Sir, when I built this little place I call “home”, 44 years ago…I FIRSTLY had a pound of flesh deducted from every dollar in my salary…from every single dollar I earned. It’s called P.A.Y.E. Plus , of course, NIS, when this came along.
    EVERYTHING I ate , in the intervening 44 years, suffered a similar fate…had a POUND OF FLESH (added-on by way of import-duties); EVERYTHING I drank in the intervening in the next 44 years, mostl Banks and Cockspur, ALSO had their POUND OF FLESH (excise tax); When I bought a car…there was THE POUND OF FLESH again. Later on CAME A VAT containing A POUND OF FLESH. Then came a “son-of-VAT, (but cuddear, this was only a “temporary” thing… I shouldn’t fret)

    EVERTHING THAT WENT INTO BUIDLING MY home, and MY LIFE…SUFFERED FROM “POUND OF FLESH SYNDROME”. or it might just be that dread thing, which the medical folks call ” FLESH-EATING BACTERIA”

    YOU STILL HUNGRY FOR FLESH, SIR? You recall, what happened to SHYLOCK, SIR? YOU SLEEP WELL AT NIGHT, SIR? WHY does our Constitution, have special provisions, to PROTECT a citizen’s “PROPERTY”, Sir?
    I GOT SOME IODINE FOR YOU, SIR.

    Reply
  4. Jackie Alleyne July 5, 2014 at 8:10 am

    When your earnings are well above the majority, you fail to see what it is like to earn far less and to make your money stretch or better still to go without. Some taxes have doubled, where are we expected to get more money from whilst wages for some have remained unchanged.

    Reply
  5. Jackie Alleyne July 6, 2014 at 7:18 am

    And quote “high levels of government performance comes with a price” – what levels is the PM referring to – any government office or counter we go to are manned by staff taking their time to do their jobs and long queues of barbadians waiting to be served, that can be very stressful and frustrating. Or unnecessary methods of extracting more money from the people eg., paying for a driving licence annually is totally unecessary, this does not include testing your ability to drive the
    aging motorists. How much money do those that be “think” people earn and how many things do they expect people to pay for and where is the reilef or concessions that the Government refers to?

    Reply

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