The Barbados Economic Society (BES) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) are recommending that Government levy a tax on water as a replacement to the Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
The suggestions, coincidentally, were made within hours of each other, one at an opposition BLP meeting, while the other came at a branch meeting of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
Jeremy Stephen, president of the BES is adamant that a tax is necessary in light of Government’s fiscal consolidation programme, and he describes as ‘utter nonsense’ calls for the municipal tax to be repealed.
“Anytime you’re collecting any type of waste, somewhere in the creation of that waste there’s water usage involved. What’s more, water is one of the cheapest public utility goods that we have. When you look at your monthly usage when you compare it to Income Tax or Land Tax most middle class people do not even pay,” he pointed out.
“It’s all about the issue of fairness; it’s all about attaching it to some form of consumption. It’s all about attaching it to a form of consumption that persons need. So I’m not advocating onerous taxation . . . “ he explained.
And just hours later, at a meeting at Carlisle Car Park, Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley said that a tax on water should be applied to all households and businesses, excluding Barbadians living below the poverty line.
“You have 80,000 households in this country. The people below the poverty line, not that they should pay, they cannot pay. Twenty per cent are below the poverty line. That leaves you with 64,000,” she said, then adding the 20,000 registered businesses.
“Unlike the Government I am not trying to get money to pay SBRC (Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre) alone. I am saying take the whole solid waste budget, the whole $65 million. And because Sanitation [Services Authority] does not have a billing system, but Water Authority does use the billing system from Water Authority instead of hiring people to send out bills.”
The Opposition leader said that added to the total figure must be the $15 million annually needed by the Water Authority, making a whole of $80 million to be collected through this single billing.
“When you divide $80 million by 84,000 [households plus businesses] and divide it by 12 [months of the year], the average payment is $64 a month. But $64 a month is still too high for a constable to pay. And the Labour Party, put a system there in the Water Authority that if you use under eight cubic metres, you pay lil bit; if you use eight to 20, a lil bit more; over 20 a lil bit more; and commercial you pay more.”
She estimates that the average household would not pay more than $20, with an possibility of an additional $15 being charged as the processing fee.