Won’t be bullied

Minister defiant amid bankers’ concerns over BRA Act

Describing as “unfortunate and unwarranted”, the decision by commercial banks to suspend over 300 real estate-related transactions estimated at more than $200 million, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler Wednesday accused the financial institutions of finding every practical reason to oppose the changes made to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) Act.

In a stinging rebuke of the concerns of the commercial banks, Sinckler said they were all excuses for non-cooperation with Government generally, and the BRA specifically, as the state seeks to collect the tax revenue that is legally due to it.

“It is rather unfortunate that some banks and some lawyers in Barbados are hell bent on frustrating Government’s legitimate attempts to collect the tax revenue that is due to the state by their clients,” Sinckler said Wednesday in a statement from the Ministry of Finance.

“First they said it was unconstitutional, then they said they were not clear about how the law would work, now they are claiming it is delaying transactions because the BRA cannot give tax clearance certificates fast enough,” he added.

President of the Barbados Bankers Association (BBA) Donna Wellington warned Tuesday that until there was clarification on the process of obtaining a tax clearance certificate, the financial institutions would not be in a position to close any real estate-related transactions or disburse monies associated with those deals.

As of March 16, 2017, the amended BRA Act, which was also opposed by the Barbados Bar Association and the Barbados Labour Party, demands that individuals and corporations be fully paid up to all branches of the state before obtaining a tax clearance certificate.

According to the amended legislation, those wishing to obtain a tax clearance certificate to facilitate a conveyance, must pay up all tax, interest and penalties accrued under the Land Tax Act and Value Added Tax Act.

Sinckler insisted that some stakeholders in the legal and banking fraternity had not given the system time to work, “purely on the grounds that they did not want it in the first place”.

The finance minister made it clear that the law would remain in place and the Government “will not be bullied into repealing it because some people believe it should not be”.

“It is nothing short of amazing that these very actors have at times in the past sought to defend and excuse the reasons why it takes as long and costs client as much as it does to complete their work in getting mortgages and other real estate transactions done, but now are apparently determined to hold an entire country to ransom because they do not wish to cooperate with Government to halt the chronic hemorrhaging of tax revenue in Barbados.

“It is unwarranted and sad, and especially so since I am suitably advised that the BRA and the Bankers Association had agreed to a sit down meeting next week prior to this action being sprung it [the BRA] without notice,” Sinckler said.

He expressed confidence that any challenges – real or perceived – with the new system would be resolved “once reasonable people sit down and work through the issues”.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement Wednesday evening Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers categorically rejected the allegations by commercial banks, which she said “infer that the Authority is hampering the commercial banks’ ability to carry out their functions”.

Sivers said over the past two weeks the BRA received 316 tax clearance certificate applications, of which 73 per cent have been completed and returned to the applicants. She did not specify if they were real estate related.

“Under normal circumstances general tax clearances are completed within 48 hours once there are no outstanding tax obligations,” she explained.

The tax collector said it was premature for the bankers to make such allegations in light of a scheduled meeting on May 30.

“The Authority does not want to, in any way, prevent the taxpaying public from achieving their goals and plans. It is, however, our mandate to ensure that our taxpayers are compliant with their obligations under the laws of Barbados,” said Sivers.

This was not the first time the Government agency has had to clarify issues relating taxes here.

The introduction of the National Social Responsibility Levy last September proved to be a major headache for some manufacturers and retailers who had reported difficulty in applying the tax.

This had led to some retailers applying the two per cent levy as a sales tax, with the BRA warning that such a move was illegal.


15 Responses to Won’t be bullied

  1. Tony Webster May 25, 2017 at 2:27 am

    Please Sir, might you consider dusting-off and re-reading your copy of The Bard’s “Merchant of Venice”?

  2. Jennifer May 25, 2017 at 5:21 am

    The iron became a string. The trees of figs were grafted into the apples producing the cedar. The mouse who is still chasing the elephant who has now outgrown all trappings. Big boy bullying, and little girl bullying, hahahahaha no rest for the wicked, they like to hunt.

    • Peter May 25, 2017 at 7:46 am

      You write so much rhetorical crap every day on every report in this medium it isn’t funny. Just whom are you trying to impress with your silly parables which are British left overs. I’m sure no one understands what you write. You dumb fart.

  3. Samantha Best May 25, 2017 at 7:07 am

    He will not rest until she brings the Government to its knees. All her advice to him is always loaded with problems and major implementation issues. She never thinks things right through to the end. She claims to be an expert in every facet of operations.When all is said and done he will have to take full responsibility for it. Where are his Permanent Secretaries and his Director of Finance and Economic Affairs in all of this?

  4. DE May 25, 2017 at 7:21 am

    “Won’t be bullied” Mr. Sinckler and his government have been bullying the people of this country for over six year, which lead us to a state of suffering. It is time for them to have some common sense and fore site bullied into them.

  5. Frank White May 25, 2017 at 7:58 am

    This is typically how the DLP operates… When the BLP was in power, everyone was eating… Construction was booming big time where you couldn’t get a block without having to order them in advance, food vendors were making mad money, the average person from the Black community was able to comfortably support his family or household but with this DLP, from the onset, problems. They don’t practice politics’ of inclusion, they policies’ are not and have never been anything beneficial to the Black community as if all their policies are dictated by the white community…

  6. jennifer May 25, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I have a poodle name Rojo. He loves nipping but Rojo so sweet as he is will not be allowded into my bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen, play room, or any part of my house. I intend to keep him outside with his little pan, full of water and chow, where can stay, eat and play. Bad dog Rojo.

  7. MrHeartless May 25, 2017 at 9:33 am

    On a point of clarity:

    The issue is not that banks and lawyers do not want people to pay taxes, that is absurd.

    The reasons why this is a problem right now is the obfuscation it has created for the following reasons:

    1) BRA lacks the resources to process the innumerable requests for these documents which causes a back log and prevents conveyancing and affiliated matters from being completed because;

    2) The Registrar of Titles cannot record a conveyance without the necessary clearances which, even if they are forthcoming are stalled due to the infrastructure being unfit to accommodate the demand and;

    3. The Act itself is not clear as to what it is to apply to (conveyances alone, mortgages, releases, assents so on and so forth), meaning that those who are to interpret it cannot do so in a way that affords them the certainty to proceed.
    – This is a problem because in the event of an issue, no one can correct it or clarify it because it is by its very nature, unclear.

    4. The Land Registry itself does not know what and when these clearances are required meaning that documents cannot be processed in a timely manner as everyone is hesitant.

    5. The Act does not cover a number of outlining situations – for example, if a resident was never registered to begin with or in the case of non-nationals who have never step foot in Barbados.
    – The Act requires that ALL classes of people get these tax clearances even when they are not applicable which leads to further confusion as to how to deal with these persons to whom the Act does not apply.

    6. There have been no directives or guidelines, no concessions or lee-way with respect to how to deal with circumstances which do not fall within the four corners of the stated law, which as you could understand, would result in meaningless gridlock.

    So as you can see, it is erroneous to view this as banks and lawyers not wanting people to pay taxes. The problem is not in the payment or non-payment of taxes it is in the lack of infrastructure and clarity needed to have the process run in an unobtrusive manner which has not been the case since the Act’s inception and has had the opposite effect of grinding business in that sector to a halt.

    Banks, who are all about the bottom line, would not pull the brakes on one of Barbados’ top money earners both for private entities and the Government alike, for something as frivolous as wanting to assist random people in tax evasion.

    It’s time to wisen up people and look at things objectively for the good of our ailing country, things work and play out much different from a practical standpoint than they do on paper.

  8. Jea Alleyne May 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

    At Frank White, “as if all their policies are dictated by the white community”…Money talks !!

  9. Calloutlies May 25, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Samantha I could not have said it better. Take a look at everything she has been involved in over the last 20 years. Always some implementation issue. I stay in my little corner and declare, time to give her a break Mr. Minister.

  10. Milli Watt May 25, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Minister you have made a good decision extend this to travel where you need a tax clearance before you leave Grantley Adams that will collect some money. You got to look out for de fraud in these cases where it is alleged persons in revenue collection agencies have been know to stamp these certificates without the money being paid. You would need to number every certificate and a paper trail generated back to the monies paid. PUT IT ON TRAVEL MINISTER………..PUT IT ON TRAVEL

    • Jennifer May 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      I agree Milli Watt 100%. Then use a dragnet for the others who trying to get through the fine holes.

  11. Haskell Murray May 25, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Well said Mr Sinclair , don’t back down all taxes MUST be paid to the government before title can be transferred and you know that this is normal business practice in all jurisdictions except Barbados. Bajans have been accustomed to too much freenes for too long and everyone knows that once that piece of paper is in the purchaser hand the transaction is completed and then the government will be carrying a tax receivable which it will have to write off later.
    If the businesses and individuals pay their taxes to the government there would not be deficits .
    The government should hire 50 tax auditors and go after all these lawyers , doctors and others who have not paid their taxes for years.
    Mia Mottley should be ashamed of herself to mislead the voters that she is doing them a service by calling for a repeal of this law and you know what some if not all of the lawyers in Barbados need to be trained in real estate business law .

    • Jennifer May 25, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Well said, this is what happens when the lion lies down with the lamb. Then the lion begins to eat. Share rubbish. Pay to hell up or ship out. The government is to only go after the poor man all the time, while others get full and flabby. And all of this party shyte is just causing clouded vision. All of them is in the same schooner together.

  12. Melanie Garrett-Bailey May 26, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Noticing that whenever I try to post a comment that isn’t pro the Minister’s position it isn’t appearing in this thread and would appreciate an explanation for that.


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