President of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) Edmund Bushell is calling on Government to offer a rebate on the Municipal Solid Waste Tax to elderly members in Barbados and to exempt those individuals from that age group who cannot afford to pay.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY at the association’s Collymore Rock office this afternoon, Bushell said he was pleading with officials to review the tax, in light of calls he has been receiving since last Thursday from angry members.
He said most had complained they were already struggling to cope with the challenging economic climate.
“They have all asked our opinion as to what they should do, and the first thing we said to them is that the law is the law and you must obey the law.
“We suggested to them that if they are able to, they should pay the tax and then use the same law to petition the Minister [of Finance] and ask that there should be some rebate or elimination of taxes to them based on individual basis.
“Each person has to make their own representation but we as an organisation can advise them as to how to make that representation,” Bushell said.
He said some BARP members had also brought in their tax bills on Friday.
“We are hoping that we can somehow convince the powers that be that maybe they need to take a different view of this tax. The least they can do really is to treat this new tax the same way they treat land tax and to get a 50 per cent rebate for pensioners. But then people who have a particular hardship should be able to be totally exempt from [paying] the tax.”
Added Bushell: “I cannot imagine the Government not taking some thought of the impact this type of taxation would have on the general population.
“Whether or not they came to the right conclusion as to how to raise the money they need is a different matter and a matter that is open for debate but I would have hoped that they would have given it some thought before they implemented it,” he said.
Last Friday, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler told this newspaper that Government had no intention of offering exemptions from the controversial tax before the tax was implemented and persons first paid the tax.
However, Bushell said “I think everybody understands the impact that this is having, especially on the people in my age group because they are on fixed incomes and there is no where to turn.
“One person called in on Friday and said to me that she happens to be in an area where the Transport Board has now decided to cut back their services . . . and now on top of that is this tax,” the BARP president explained.