The week would have ended much better than it started for some taxpayers, who no doubt would have welcomed the newly announced Municipal Solid Waste Tax ease.
We refer here specifically to those senior citizens who own small properties, including a few derelicts, with an improved value of $190 000 or less. Owners of agricultural plots, including several small farmers, would doubt also embrace the relief they are getting from the much dreaded “rubbish” tax, even if it only half the rate at this stage.
Of course, the majority of us will still have to pull our pockets since the Government’s newfound generosity does not extend to the entire populace.
We do however acknowledge the effort made by Cabinet to make it make this latest dose of bitter economic medicine a little bit easier to swallow by its extension of the tax deadline from July 28 to December 31.
This certainly will make it a lot less immediate for those who are still scratching their heads over where they actually will find the money from to pay the 0.03 per cent levy taxable on the improved value of all local properties.
But in fairness to the Freundel Stuart administration, which is no doubt also digging into its skull after already proclaiming that its “nipples are sore”, the move to grant an ease does prove that it has not been caught in any deep slumber.
Without a doubt, Government by its own actions has shown that it has heard the loud chorus of discontent, and while the most preferred response at this stage would have been a total repeal of the tax, Government’s attempt to respond to the cries of the people is at least proof that it not beyond salvation.
Indeed, Bishop Gerry Seale may be forced to take back his words –– or maybe not!
It is not very often in our very conservative society that we hear a man of the cloth of the highest of priestly honour speaking out in the way that he was so moved by the Holy Spirit to this week.
“Render on to Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s and render onto God that which is God’s,” warned Seale in a strongly worded letter to Barbados TODAY in which he also sought to caution the ruling administration that the municipal levy was not only “onerous and unjust” but that it “is pushing this Government towards the increasing floodwaters where it’s moral right to govern is being eroded”.
“We all understood the Democratic Labour Party to have promised in last year’s election campaign that there would be no jobs lost should it be elected to Government. To allow that impression to have been created then and say now that this was not promised is disingenuous at best.
“I have been unable to understand how sending home 3,000 people at the bottom of the economic ladder was going to save Government the kinds of multiplied millions of dollars that we were supposed to be saving through this exercise. But then I was never very good at maths.”
What this all adds up to though is an evaporating faith in the promises of a Government that came to power seemingly with the full blessing of the local church family.
However, within this past week, the Anglican Church has also had cause to speak out against the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, even though His Lordship The Bishop John Holder expressed himself in a far more more passive and measured tone than his Pentecostal counterpart.
This, added to the cries from virtually every sector of the society over the past few weeks, could have engendered the fear of eternal damnation, eventually getting the Government to budge.
While we await the official reasoning, it will be interesting to get the IMF’s take on the tax ease, given its warning related to us by our Prime Minister that this country already offers way too many exemptions.
Hopefully, we may see the back of this awful tax after all, since vox populi vox dei –– the voice of the people is the Voice of God.
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