One senior government minister has suggested that there has been enough anxiety raised about the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax that merits a review of it.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Donville Inniss said there have been enough complaints from residents and business operators about the levy, adding that he understood their plight. At the same time, he said he also understood the country was in need of revenue growing measures and the tax was one such measure.
The St James South Member of Parliament was speaking to members of the media following a tour of McBride Caribbean Limited on Wednesday. This forms a series of tours of the manufacturing sector, in which Inniss is familiarising himself with operators and hearing their complaints and successes.
“McBride and other companies obviously have received a tax bill like all of us property owners have. I have certainly received many complaints from constituents of mine, particularly middle-income constituents about the tax. Not so much about the amount, but what some perceived to be the lack of equity in how it is arrived at. Certainly as Minister of Commerce only yesterday I received complaints from one of the representative bodies outlining what companies in Barbados are being charged in this particular tax,” he said reluctantly, when pressed by this newspaper to respond to the complaints by businesses about the new tax.
Some business operators will be required to pay in excess of $150,000 for the municipal tax. It is calculated at 0.3 per cent of the site value.
“I am not going to get into any shouting match or ranting and raving. I will simply say that I believe there has been enough disquiet in this society and in the business community about this particular tax, which merits us sitting and revisiting the matter. The Minister of Finance has indicated that that is his mindset to perhaps [revisit it] after the first year it has been put in place,” added Inniss.
“But I would say there is enough of a concern that merits us as politicians; us as parliamentary representatives and us as ministers and a cabinet in sitting down and taking great note of the arguments being put forward, not the political arguments and the fluffs and emotions, but really to sit and ask ourselves if it is having the desired impact upon families and upon business as anticipated. If it is not, what can we do about it,” he said.
Inniss quickly advised, however, that all Barbadians should play their part to ensure that the business community was in a position to expand and diversify their offerings “so that we can have a larger base [from] which to derive our revenue necessary to run the affairs of the state.”
“I am not dismissing the solid waste tax and the concerns, I think many of them are very real and we as politicians better take note,” added Inniss.
Similar to complaints by other companies over the past week, general manager of McBride Caribbean Limited Ricardo Strickland said the new tax had added to the burden of high and increasing operational costs for that company.
Strickland opted not to say how much they were required to pay or if the company was in a position to comfortably meet the July 28 deadline.
Inniss said based on what he was hearing from individuals and the business community, the “bigger issue” was about the level of taxation for Barbados”.
“The business community certainly like households, they have similar concerns. Every tax in their respect is an additional burden or additional cost. I am also very mindful of the need for the state to raise a certain level of revenue to ensure that there is good governance and that the state and its apparatus continue to function efficiently. On one hand we will [complain about] the level of taxation but we still need to know that our public transportation system works, that our healthcare system works, and law and order remain in tact.
“These things all cost money. It is a very trying time, undoubtedly for businesses and for families in Barbados and I can say that the Government is ever mindful of this and will not play deaf to them,” assured Inniss.
He added, however: “It ought to inspire us all to work a lot closer with the business community; the manufacturing sector to help to create the jobs, create the export opportunities and earn the foreign exchange. To me, this is where the focus has to be.”