Barbadians may soon have to dig deeper into their pockets to support the controversial tipping fee, with Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe today hinting at the possibility of an environmental tax.
Speaking in Parliament, Lowe admitted that the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) had encountered several problems since implementing the fee last year. And he said Barbadians needed to accept responsibility for the disposal of their garbage.
“We acknowledge that the tipping fee issue has some embedded challenges in it. A recent conversation with the Ministry of Finance did reveal there are some challenges, aside from the fact that it has become somewhat challenging for waste haulers.
“We believe that the spread is too narrow and if we follow the global conventional belief that the polluter pays, then it means that everybody who is involved in waste generation has to become a part and parcel of the process of paying for the collection of waste,” Lowe stated during debate on a resolution seeking $6, 088, 284 to supplement the SSA’s operating costs.
The tipping fee was met with strong resistance when it was introduced in May last year and led to a week-long strike by waste haulers who complained that the levy would cripple their businesses.
The Minister noted that due to some challenges experienced by the SSA early in the financial year, along with the fact that it had not recouped the $8 million expected from the tipping fee, there was a financial shortfall.
Lowe also revealed today that the cash-strapped SSA would soon receive $10 million from Government to purchase 15 new vehicles.
He said the move was part of a restructuring plan for the Government-owned entity and would help the SSA to operate more efficiently.
According to the Minister, the adjustments were expected to save the waste collection agency $4 million.
“I think it is well documented that there has been a series of challenges that we are addressing very systematically at this time. We are not just simply looking to spend more money or less money, but we are looking to refashion and reorder the SSA to become a more efficient institution.
“As a result we have been very methodically going through all of the operation issues faced by the SSA and I am satisfied that only recently we were handed a restructuring plan that would give rise to addressing a number of those issues . . . In our new restructuring plan we were able to leave out a lot of duplication and according to the new plan we’ve been able to come up with over $4 million in savings.
“Of course the issue of vehicles has been an ongoing issue and I am satisfied that the Ministry of Finance has responded and only today I was informed that there will be a sum of $10 million allocated to the SSA in a matter of weeks, so that we can bring in the vehicles which are required,” Lowe revealed.
He said the manufacturers had already been contacted and he expected the vehicles to arrive on the island in the next four to five months.