Within the next two months some hotel properties on the west coast could see their water bills climbing to $60,000 a month as a result of Government’s decision to impose and additional 50 per cent of the water bills of businesses as a Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC).
This means that a business that has a water bill of $40,000 per month will have to pay an additional $20,000 as GSC.
In her austerity Budget yesterday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that from August 1, the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) would no longer be funded through the Consolidation Fund but through the new GSC, which will be levied through the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
“The GSC for households will be $1.50 per household per day [while] commercial premises will pay a GSC that will be set at 50 per cent of their existing water bills, with half going to the SSA and the other half to the BWA,” said Mottley, while announcing that there would be a review of the existing sewerage and connection fee being charged to south coast and Bridgetown residents.
However, addressing a post Budget breakfast meeting at the Hilton Barbados Resort today, Chairperson of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Roseanne Myers said the new levy was likely to negatively impact hoteliers.
“Philosophically we agree with it. We have had people on the south coast whose water bill and the sewage is two-thirds of the whole bill already even though the system isn’t working. So for those people it will probably bring some benefit, . . . but look at what is happening on the other side,” Myers told the gathering of business people for the joint PricewaterhouseCoopers and Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry seminar.
“At the west coast hotel I have invested in a sewage system because I have to. You now charge me half of my water bill. My water bill is $20,000 a month or $40,000 month. Those are the numbers we are actually dealing with. So at [an additional] $10,000 a month [for example], I am being asked to pay, $120,000 annually, to contribute to something that I benefit from because the island benefits from it, but I still have my own capital costs,” she said.
Myers explained that hoteliers still had to pump their own tanks, maintain their systems and pay for their own garbage collection.
Saying that the amount some businesses would now be required to pay on their water bill would come as a shock, Myers said there was definitely need for more conversation on that tax measure.
“We can have a conversation also about how much will the south coast sewerage connection fee, for those people on the south coast, will perhaps be reduced when we do this,” said Myers, while expressing satisfaction that the two-week-old BLP administration, which came to power in the May 24 general election, was willing to “listen and facilitate” the tourism sector.
She also raised concern about the likely impact of Government’s “aggressive” Airline Travel and Tourism Development Tax of U$70 for those travelling outside the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and US$35 for those travelling intra-regionally on the sector’s competitiveness. This tax will take effect on tickets purchased as of October 1.
“So we have to find that medium,” Myers said.
She also pointed out that after doing a rough check with some tour operators they could end up with as much as $1,000 more in operating costs as a result of Government’s decision to implement a fuel tax of 40 cents per litre on petrol and diesel effective July 1.