Government minister Darcy Boyce is suggesting that his administration introduce a new tax to subsidise low-income housing.
Senator Boyce, a minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, says the tax should be levied on all items purchased by residents.
He made the recommendation during debate in the Senate this morning on a resolution for the compulsory acquisition of more than 3,000 square feet of land at Whitepark Road in The City to be used for the construction of an apartment complex for lowincome families.
“The time may have come when we may have to look at some of the techniques that are being used in other countries to raise money for low income housing . . .where maybe a penny or two or our spending goes into some fund to provide that subsidy for housing for those people who cannot afford it,” he proposed, adding that he did not support too many levies on income.
“Maybe we have to move to the stage where we look at some expenditure-based tax to be able to raise a certain amount of money each year to provide a subsidy for low income housing so that we can make sure that everybody who needs housing, but cannot afford such housing, is adequately housed. It’s not only in their interest but it’s in the interest of all Barbadians to make sure that our neighbours have proper housing.”
Senator Boyce said too that Government should empower residents in low income housing areas by moving away from a rental arrangement to one of ownership.This, he said, could be facilitated by incorporating state-owned apartments and having them placed under the Condominium Act.
Banks, credit unions and insurance companies should also be engaged in discussions to make access to financing easier, the minister recommended.
“The owners of the condominiums are owners of the condominium corporation, which then goes ahead and takes care of the maintenance and so on. . . . Once we’ve got this land acquired we need to. . .find ways to ensure the those people who are interested in living there are able to acquire those units,” he said.
The land, being acquired at Whitepark Road, is earmarked for a four-storey terrace apartment complex that would provide 32 units, with residents of The City being given priority.
Boyce’s call came days after Minister of Education Ronald Jones suggested that a similar levy be imposed on Barbadians to cover the high costs associated with health care and education.
He said Government could raise as much as $80 million annually through the introduction of a social amenities levy, to be split evenly between the two areas.
The money, he explained, would go towards fees for tertiary education and the maintenance of more than 100 schools.