The Municipal Solid Waste Tax is being imposed on an already overtaxed population to meet a revenue shortfall caused by a reduction in land tax collected.
That’s how Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams summed up the new tax today in the Senate while presenting the Opposition’s position on the new tax.
Abrahams said: “The Government is not collecting the money it is expecting to collect and it is trying to plug the hole with the Solid Waste Tax. There is a concept that people often abide by and it is called the concept of diminishing returns. There comes a time when people cannot take anymore no matter how noble your objectives. No matter how you try, you cannot sqeeze blood from a stone.
“We are currently experiencing the highest level of taxation ever experienced.
“It is almost inconceivable for the average person to have to say to himself that: I have to pay more taxes. What is the effect of the solid waste tax?
“Senator McClean said the Solid Waste Tax will only be imposed on property on which one lives and waste is generated.
“Consider an agricultural holding where someone is occupying ten acres and there is a house in one corner on 6,000 sq ft. and the rest of it is under crops and it is one plot for the purpose of land tax. This tax applies to all of the acreage, to the whole piece of land.
“So if the rationale is that the tax is supposed to affect where the waste is generated and we are saying it is generated under a household then there must have been some thought that this act operates to cause inequity.
“Let us say that someone occupies 20,000 sq ft although they live only on 10,000 sq ft then they are paying the tax on all. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of this tax. There can be a case where a family of five living side by side with a bachelor in houses of equal size; it is obvious that the larger family will generate more garbage yet they will be asked to pay equal solid waste tax. This is not fair,” Abrahams added.
Abrahans, who is an attorney-at-law, recalled that when the International Monetary Fund left Barbados last year after Article Four Consultation they left with the distinct impression that the tax was in force and it appeared in their report.
“This tax was riddled with errors from the beginning. The Minister of Finance in his budget last year [said] that the tax was supposed to be 0.7 per cent to raise $49.3 million in revenue. That was qucikly realised. That was reduced to to 0.3 per per cent to raise the same $49.3 million in revenue.
“This was not thought through. It was fraught with mistakes from the beginning. Government senators say the tax comes into effect in June this year, but the Act says it will be retro-active to September 1 last year,” the Opposition senator noted.