Minister of Industry and Commerce Donville Inniss says Government will not bow to pressure from all interest groups seeking relief from the Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
And he is sending a message that while Government continues to listen to residents, they should not expect any across-the-board tax ease.
Minister Inniss made the comments last evening at his St James South branch meeting where head of the Barbados Economic Society Jeremy Stephen was the guest speaker.
The outspoken minister said though some pensioners had requested, and received, an ease, a number of them could afford to pay the tax.
As an example, he cited the monthly pension of a retired chief justice, stating it was more than what he earns as a minister.
“If we continue to bow to pressure to every interest group then nobody will be touched and the problem would just mushroom and get out of hand. So whilst we listen, I think those who are complaining must appreciate that everything you ask for, you will not necessarily get,” he said.
“The Government continues to listen. We can’t make adjustments every week, we can’t revisit legislation every month but we are certainly listening and I’m sure that the Ministers of Finance, Environment and all of us will continue, as we sit together every week and debate national issues, pay very close attention to this one.
“We would not be so stupid as to conduct ourselves in a manner that would make people feel that we don’t care or that we’re not listening,” he said firmly.
While noting that there would inevitably be inequity in the system with the burden of paying taxes inevitably falling on a smaller group of people, the minister said it was time for a national discussion on the issue of solid waste.
“The discussion has to be about what is a fair and reasonable amount of money to take from you in taxes for the range of goods and services the state provides in return . . . and I think once we get that conversation at the right level then we’re going to find that this country is going to settle, people are going to feel they need to be a lot more compliant with taxes and on the state’s end we’re going to have a higher level of accountability,” he stated.
The minister went on to commend Opposition parliamentarian Kerrie Symmonds for his decision to boycott yesterday’s Barbados Labour Party meeting held to discuss the solid waste tax.
He said while he did not view this as any ‘overture’ towards the ruling Democratic Labour Party, Symmonds was showing a “refreshing level of maturity”.