One of the largest umbrella church organisations in Barbados has asked Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to review the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax, which is due to be paid by July 28.
The Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI), which represents 25 assemblies across the island, recently wrote Sinckler informing him that the church’s charities would also be adversely affected because the funds allocated to assist the poor and needy, would now have to be diverted to paying the tax on the site value of properties which generate waste.
While stating that his comments had not been discussed with the PAWI administration, Bishop of the umbrella organisation Reverend Gerry Seale agreed to speak with Barbados TODAY this afternoon about the possible the effects of the tax on its membership.
Rev Seale said that some churches which have already received bills, could be relieved of tens of thousands of dollars.
“When you add up for the assemblies we have across
the island, there is quite a few thousand dollars that so far has come in and more are expected to come in,” said the head of PAWI.
“With everything that our people are going through, we have been trying to step up to the plate and increase what we do to assist members and even non members and we now have to divert money towards this tax that could have continued going to assist people,” he added.
Rev Seale also questioned the reasoning behind the introduction of the levy.
“I’ve wondered if it [tax] was really thought through [with], all the ramifications of this blanket tax over everybody. We’re not in a position to have any cemeteries, but I understand even cemeteries and so on are attracting the tax. So that’s one area of concern,” he pointed out.
“The other area of concern [is that] we have members who have lost their jobs, yet being asked to pay these taxes. It’s a bit challenging,” the cleric lamented.
“I wonder if all the ramifications were thought through before this was implemented. When there was talk about 0.3 per cent, it sounds like it isn’t very much, but when you actually calculated out, in many cases you talking thousands of dollars,” he noted.
In his own case, Rev Seale said the Municipal Solid Waste Tax was more than twice what his land tax was last year.
He also cited another example of someone close to him, who is now faced with having to pay four times as much as their land tax last year.
“And the land tax bill still coming in the next few weeks,” he noted.
“It has begun to feellike we are being overtaxed,” the PAWI Bishop.
He said people did not seem to realise upfront the true financial impact of the tax until they saw the bills in their hands.
“Most people thought, oh well . . . a few dollars, nothing less than a hundred, not a problem; I think people were thinking along that line, but when the bill arrived, they go, oh my God, how on earth am I going to deal with this?
“And applying it across the board to everybody and to everything without thinking this through. You have concessions for senior citizens for land tax, but no concessions for this, which is more than twice the land tax,” he said.
“You asking the churches and the charities to step up and assist people and you still asking them to now cough up thousands of dollars for things that they never had to pay a tax on before,” the church leader lamented.