No pain, no gain

Sinckler insists tax is necessary as political scientist warns of fallout

A leading political scientist today warned of serious fallout for the Freundel Stuart Government over its implementation of the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax, even as Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler insisted that Government would be sticking with the revenue measure.

Dr George Belle went as far as to suggest that even if the Government was to withdraw the tax at this stage in a quest to silence strong public opposition, it was now too late for it to recover; therfore the matter could only be settled through a return to the polls.

Dr George Belle
Dr George Belle

This as, Sinckler called on Barbadians to stay the course with him and the Government, despite the pain. In an interview with Barbados TODAY the Minister of Finance maintained that the tax was necessary.

“Stay the course, it is painful and in some instances it is inconveniencing . . . but it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.

“Regardless of who is Minister of Finance, who is Prime Minister, who is Government and who is Opposition, this course of action, absolutely has to be done. There is no escaping it,” Sinckler insisted.

“So we can chose to do this in support of the country and ensure that we get to the place that we want to be in 2015/2016, in relation to our economy, have it growing, get those investments . . . Sandals, Four Seasons, the greening project, cruise terminal, the waste-to-energy plant; all those things are nice things [that] are lined up to be done,” he said.

However he cautioned that if the fiscal situation was not brought under control by cutting expenditure and raising sufficient revenue “so that we are living within our means” then, “all of these things that people like to hear about – tourists coming – none of that would matter, because you would just be too unstable, in order to achieve that.”

He acknowledged “the difficulties of it and the pain of it” but in this instance, he said “the pain would lead to gain”.

Therefore, he said, Barbadians must endeavour to help each other to ensure everyone got through this period as a country.  He noted that sometimes when a country was going through a rough time, sacrifices had to be made “and as one person put it, ‘there is no Easter Sunday celebration without the pain of Good Friday’.

“You have to go through Good Friday for Eastern Sunday to make sense,” Sinckler said.

He said while he did not enjoy putting measures in place that caused pain, he wanted residents to rally around their flag, their country and the Government and themselves.

But political scientist Dr Belle told Barbados TODAY the country was in big trouble, with little light at the end of the tunnel.

“We are in a lot of problems, the Government needs the money, the society is at the point where it cannot afford to give very much, the middle class is under tremendous pressure, the working class is being laid off, the business class is saying that it doesn’t have a surplus to invest or employ people, they cannot be confident about giving investment when they do not know what is the next policy which might impact on them negatively. It is not an easy situation if you put all those things together, the picture is very difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dr Belle added that in a situation like that even if you are accused of being partisan, one must ultimately conclude “there is a need for political solution in Barbados”.

“You have to have something that says we are going to try something differently and the way to deal with that is by constitutional means by which you have a national debate which is definitive and that means that you have to go back to the people,” he told Barbados TODAY.

The political scientist has written off the municipal tax as another case of the Government acting under pressure to raise badly needed revenue without properly studying the implications.

“This tax is characteristic of this attempt to gain revenue because of cash flow problems and as a result you tax people who are already overtaxed. It is being done too in a context where people have not had raises in income for a number of years, where there are other taxes and where there are expenses that have been increased in relation to the cost responsibilities that people are being asked to carry now where they had formally assumed that the taxes they were paying would cover those expenses. So it is being done in a context of desperation, ” he said.

He further argued the Government was in a sense trapped and it would not be easy to scrap or review the tax which would mean returning to parliament.

“That is going to have some fairly serious implications for alternative sources of revenue and the Government does not have much space to play with so that it is easy to say that, but it is not easy for the Government to reverse the position at this stage.”

The political scientist said the Government could not escape political fallout from the controversial measure as he pointed out that it only serves to “increase insecurity and a lack of confidence in the regime”.

“The only way that you can hope for a change is if there was somebody else who could carry out policies that would facilitate the possibilities of growth, that could facilitate the possibility of increased disposable income; without that you are sustaining a condition of insecurity and lack of confidence to investors.”

But Dr Belle was quick to caution that while it was the prime opportunity for the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to take up the Government, the Opposition needs to get its house in order.

“The problem is the divisions within the Opposition and it means that people will have a difficulty in relation to being sure about whether they can steer the way forward especially when they see contradictory things. If you have that kind of dilemma presented to people, it compounds the situation so there is a problem with the Opposition, but it is the only viable, sufficiently organised force to be an alternative to the current regime.”,


14 Responses to No pain, no gain

  1. Jason Bowen
    Jason Bowen July 12, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Its a difficult concept for many to understand but I agree no pain no gain. Many make the sacrifice to go to University and toiled many an hour at night some had to work while at University and so on and make a significant sacrifice to advance themselves. It is no different from a country and sometimes one must make that sacrifice to advance

  2. HLH July 12, 2014 at 5:49 am

    This would not be necessary if this Government was doing its job from the beginning. Stop blaming others for your screw ups. Let people that know what they are doing run the country.

  3. Francis McClean
    Francis McClean July 12, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Clearly the government now realized the dire straits that it is in and needed to raise revenue immediately or face collapse. In their desperation they implemented this tax as a quick fix to give them time to sort things out. This is plain to see. The problem is that it has compounded the their situation exponentially. They need to seek viable help for the good of Barbados or else we all will be in deep s–t.

  4. Jewel Forde
    Jewel Forde July 12, 2014 at 6:12 am

    The part I don’t understand is telling someone who has demonstrated that they cannot pay the tax to pay it anyway and then seek the Minister’s mercy. What are they suppose to do… the tax and not the light bill, or water or go to the supermarket? Please, explain it to me like I’m a two year old.

  5. depablo July 12, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Hush…. too much pain kills… pain since 2008…. what foolishness you talking about?!

    Pain all de time so? Cost of living through de roof…taxes, taxes,taxes…. no salary increase…stupse… u and sinckler cud hush do… call elections…done wid dem

  6. Tony Webster July 12, 2014 at 6:52 am

    I am going to do something now, that I have neither had theopportunity, nor the inclination to do, but which politicians of all stripes do with ease, virtualy daily: I am going to speak out of both sides of my mouth simultaneously.

    For the record, I agree with BOTH Dr. Belle AND with the Hon. Minister of Finance.
    Howcum? This country is not only now in fiscal crisis (make that plural), as we also need fundamenal makeovers (systemic changes) to our economy; educational, fiscal, judicial, and political / governmental structures; but NONE of these is a short-term, switch-on-the-light thing. Our Hon.Hook-Line-and-Sinker is also right that it’s going to take a lot of pain, to achieve even a few of these objectives. But hey! We (you and me) just love comfortable, ‘cozy ruts’, right?

    In ALSO agreeing with Dr. Belle: it is very clear that while we have a mixed-bag of representatives, on both sides of The House, we must face the pain (financial, as well as emotional ) which is an un-avoidable fellow-traveller of real CHANGE; but recognising that ALL countries go through these phases of developement. Some do it continually…just to remain relevant and competitive!! Since Jesus is not just yet ready to come back to sort us out, the critical factor to even contemplate THE NEW BARBADOS, and to oversome the huge challenges staring us in the face…the ONE non-nagotiable factor …is a STRONG ADMINISRATION. We need a STRONG government, in the House. NO GOVERNMENT, of whatever party, of whatever make-up, has any chance of sucessfully implementing these fundamental changes, with the currrent 15-14 composition on the floor.

    Procrastination, is NOT our friend, in these circumstanmces. It will only get worse when these changes are attempted when everything in and out of Parliament; every necessary “fix”; is ham-strung by crass politics; every policy-change depends on fending-off special-interest-favours; yielding to strong, established groups who flex their ‘political muscles’. And the real pain, is yet ahead of us. And accepting debilitating terms which are attached to project-funding-agreements by B.O.L.T.S….so-called ‘friendly folks’…who are now popping-up like nut-grass.

    Who will lead us? A child? Or can we just see the pitiful future we shall otherwise bequest to our precious children, and just act…act NOW. I do not know whose turn it is to ‘drop a card’ , but my goodness, someone…had better get up courage, to ‘mek a move’. Do what right, and righteous. Sir. Your turn to play, Sir.

    • Alex 3 July 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      No doubt Barbados needs to get its house in order, cut waste, eliminate fraud, and spend wisely but it has to be FAIR and it has to be BALANCED. Whether it is cutting bus routes that require people to leave home hours earlier and getting home late or forced to use taxis to taxing the local Boy Scouts it has to be fair. This is not.

  7. Ellie Brown
    Ellie Brown July 12, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Rubbish now, rubbish before and rubbish later it’s purer rubbish

  8. Brian Hurley
    Brian Hurley July 12, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Fix the inefficiencies in the public service and the misappropriation (including the tiefing) of the existing taxes you already recieve and you will have the funds needed to do all those “nice things” we need done.

  9. James Franks July 12, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Waste Tax ?
    James. Franks says NO THANKS !!

  10. Anita Delph July 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Sinckler say “You have to go through Good Friday for Eastern Sunday to make sense,” . You ever notice whenever politicians doing nonsense and hurting the people that put them there that they always make some reference to the bible. The more they screw us the more they need the church to keep the people in check.

    The people need to be free of this lot of jokers. The reality is that the business sector, the people and ever the church based on the recent calling of Benny Hinn to help, have all lost confidence in this government and their ability to revive the country. None of these measures will work as long as the country believe the Government do not know what they are doing. Revival of the economy requires public confidence that is simply not there.

    Men will never be free until the last politician is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” ― Denis Diderot

  11. Jackie Alleyne July 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

    If this tax IS necessary then it should be spread across the WHOLE of society, you have neglected to include certain groups eg., non-property owners. Property owners already pay land tax which doubled in cost for some already, and now the same people are being looked at for this tax.

  12. I smell the funk July 14, 2014 at 10:03 am

    What it the total value of tax for which Sandals was exempt and also cost-u-less.
    What percentage of this exempt tax represents the value of tax the MoF hopes to recoup from the solid waste tax??

  13. Alex 3 July 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    It is the dumbest basis of taxation I have ever read about. How can you fairly assess a tax based on property values?
    Your average hotel will put out tonnes of garbage relative to an home owner or the Boy Scouts. Industrial waste is huge compared to a small condo. It is so unbalanced it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad and such a reflection on the competency of the minister and his staff.


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