With a number of Barbadians still awaiting payment of their outstanding tax returns, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler today called on business operators to pay up outstanding taxes to Government.
At the same time, he hinted at the possibility of another tax amnesty while suggesting that Government could fully empathize with those businesses – especially small operators – who were currently feeling the economic strain.
“I say that in all seriousness, because the system is interlocked, if one part does not function well enough, then the other part is hobbled, and then we keep shouting at each other,” he said in an address to the official opening of the Regus business centre in Welches, St Thomas this afternoon.
However, he assured that Government had no interest in seeing Barbadian businesses go under, while noting, “over the last few years has had amnesties on top of amnesties”.
“Probably will have some in the future again, but you know the thing with amnesties they become encourageable. When people know an amnesty is coming they decide, ‘I am not going to pay, I am going to wait on the next amnesty’ . . .. Our job is not to close businesses, our job is to keep businesses opened, keep people employed and keep economic activities going. So we have to find a way to reinforce each other and ensure we work our way down from any precipice that we may find ourselves perched upon,” Sinckler added.
As for the current situation in which Government has been slow in paying tax refunds, he said it was neither one his ministry enjoyed nor wished to see “drag on inordinately”.
“Over the past year Government has adopted a more assured and aggressive strategy towards dealing with this unsustainable yet understandable situation. This is reflected in the fact that between April 15,  and March 2016, Government paid out roughly $202, 254,000 to Barbadians. Of this amount, the highest, $82 million was paid in VAT returns with another $72 million in income tax returns and $33 million in corporation tax returns,” he said to applause.
“Needless to say, payments are continuing apace at speed that is necessary to effect liquidation of the booked liabilities, and will be done of course as resources allow and cash flow improves,” assured Sinckler.
“We can only ask for two things from our partners and stakeholders in the system. Though it is difficult, we ask for your continued patience and support as collectively we seek to bring resolution to these challenges,” he said.