The head of the private Waste Haulers Association, Charles Read, believes there is an easy way for Government to get to the bottom of the illegal dumping problem and that the answer lies in its controversial tipping fee.
“If you [private hauler] are not buying [tipping fee] tickets then that means that either you are not doing any business or you dumping your business where it don’t belong,” said Read, while pointing out that it was costing his company anywhere between $12,000 and $15,000 per week.
During his last Budget presentation, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced that private haulers would be required to register with the state-run Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) and pay an annual licence fee, as well as produce a tax clearance certificate from the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
Read said there was no objection to the registration and monitoring of waste haulers, pointing out that his company was able to track where “every single load” of waste ended up.
“We have a tipping receipt. So we can determine where our loads go. If a load of garbage get collected and we don’t have a tipping receipt then we find out what happen,” he added.
However, he pointed out that despite promises made in the last Budget, there had been no change to the $25 tipping fee introduced by Government last May.
The move had triggered a week of protests by the haulers, in an unsuccessful bid to get Government to scrap the garbage levy.
Nonetheless, Sinckler announced in the June 15 Budget that instead of the initial charge of $25 per tonne plus VAT, the tipping fee would be levied at $40 per load for all categories of waste, including liquid waste, municipal solid waste, rock, soil, construction and demolition waste, green waste and coconuts.
Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe had also subsequently announced a waiver of the controversial measure, which is being managed by the SSA.
In an interview with state-run CBC last July, Lowe said the move was in response to the strike action by unionized SSA workers, which had resulted in unsightly pile-ups all across the country.
“For the time being we are creating that facility for persons who are willing to come forward [and help],” said Lowe in announcing the waiver.
However, giving an update on the situation to Barbados TODAY, Read said as far as he was aware the $40 per load was never implemented, therefore members of his group were still being charged the $25 per load or part thereof to dispose of refuse at the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre.
“There has been no change to it. As they implemented it on May 4, 2015, it remains as is. We appealed to the Minister [of the Environment] and the Government of Barbados back in May and there have been proposals spoken about in the Press, but there has been no change to how it has been implemented back in May,” insisted Read.
When asked if the haulers would be prepared to further challenge the tipping fee by the way of renewed protests this year, Read responded: “No, the ball is in the court of the Government now.
“This is a tax that we pass on to our customers. We have protested it and we have appealed to Government and I am told that there are changes being proposed and being worked through. So I don’t know whether it would be prudent really for us to go agitating Government again. I think we need to see how the amendments get implemented and see what the impact would be,” he explained.