Describing the introduction of the tipping fee as a “low blow”, and another multimillion dollar tax grab after the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams today charged that Government was being “penny wise and pound foolish”.
The tipping fee that came into effect from Monday for garbage delivered to Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) has been met with protests by truckers over some aspects of the arrangement. They held talks with Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe to resolve their concerns.
Abrahams, the Opposition spokesman on the Environment, today accused Lowe, “of refusing to learn from mistakes” and encouraging Government to continue “advising itself on new policy to the detriment of Barbados”.
“It was advised against by some of the more enlightened persons in the Ministry of the Environment”, Abrahams said. “The impact of this will not only be felt years down the road, it will be seen immediately. At the end of the day after collecting over $50 million in 2015 from the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, this new tipping fee must be seen for what it really is, a cash grab.
“This tipping fee proposal was objected to from the beginning by the major players in the waste collection industry. It was objected to by contractors and it was objected to by the ordinary Barbadian with properties large enough to generate significant amounts of refuse including garden waste,” Abrahams said, bringing home his argument of islandwide objection to the fee.
Pointing to last year’s introduction of the Solid Waste Municipal Tax, he said that controversial levy, “was inflicted on the majority of property holding Barbadians for exactly this purpose – to cover the collection and disposal of solid waste.
“The question must now arise: Are we not being charged twice for effectively the same thing?”
Abrahams expressed fear that persons who had difficulty paying the fee would go outside the law to get rid of their waste items.
“Times are hard and many people will not pay for a truck to move something if they can get it moved without a cost. A person having a small fridge moved at no cost will be tempted to see it dumped at no cost. An unscrupulous trucker looking to maximize profits may be tempted to offload his cargo somewhere where the tipping fee is not enforced even after collecting the tipping fee.”
He continued, “All Barbadians are aware that there is a problem with illegal dumping. We see it in cart roads, old quarries, cane fields and gullies and this was before the imposition of the tipping fee. How much worse is it going to be when there is a fee imposed for legally dumping at SBRC?”