Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley does not believe Cabinet changes to the Municipal Solid Waste Tax go far enough and has called for Government to repeal the measure in its entirety.
In a statement issued a day after Cabinet approved relief for some groups of residents, Mottley said the partial tax relief appears to be a knee-jerk reaction and warned that failure to have a clear, certain and consistent taxation policy could lead to confusion and despair.
She said the explanation given by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, particularly as it relates to pensioners, is also too vague.
“At what age do we define pensioners? Is it 65? Is it 67? What about the other members of BARP who are over 50 years old but on a reduced income or have started receiving their pensions? They must still pay this tax,” she insisted.
“What about people who have been laid off or are not working for whatever reason but who have inherited land or bought their properties? They still have to pay. In addition the burden remains heavily on churches and charities and we all know that they have no income and must rely on their congregations and donors. A tax on assets has no relationship to people’s or institutions’ capacity to pay.
“We welcome the ease for the farmers. But what about the hoteliers and other tourism providers? They must still pay this tax yet our economy’s return to growth largely depends on their ability to survive and thrive. Nine months after the Ministry of Finance gave Sandals concessions, hoteliers still await that level playing field but now have to pay this excessive tax.
Mottley was adamant that the administration had no legal authority to charge interest and penalties to people who could not pay by the initial deadline of July 28, insisting this is not a concession by the Fruendel Stuart administration.
“We know that the Government needs revenue but the burden must be shared fairly across the population. This tax does not do this and many Bajans simply cannot afford to pay after the many taxes and increases they now face. Better and fairer can be done,” the Opposition Leader said.