Despite being rejected by voters over their handling of the economy, the Democratic Labour Party, without a voice in Parliament for the first since 1956 has delivered its first critique on the tax measures of the Mia Mottley administration.
President of the Democratic Labour Party Verla Depeiza suggested that two of the promises made by the Barbados Labour Party administration in its manifesto and mini-budget – an increase in the Non- Contributory Pension and the introduction of the Solid Waste Tax – will create a slew of problems for Barbadians.
Speaking at the former constituency office of embattled former Member of Parliament for St James South Donville Inniss who is currently facing charges in the US for money laundering, Depeiza raised concern about the mini-budget proposal to seemed to veer away from the policy of parity in increases between the non-contributory and contributory pensions.
“I think that we are all aware of not only the fact of parity through this point, but they have kept them moving and kept the ratio between the two the same. The reason being non-contributory pension as the name suggests paid nothing into the fund and would benefit from someone else’s money that was paid into the fund. So, there was always the tendency to keep them moving along with the sliding rule together and I have learned that that has not happened in this case.”
Depeiza called on the media to back up assertion which she said needed to research herself.
“Now I will go, and research and I hope the media will too. Because my memory suggests that in the mini-budget the two would keep parity and if that has not happened then that is a point for investigative journalism. It is also a point for us as opposition to research and push forward,” she said to members of the DLP executive and party faithful.
Depeiza tackled the issue of the Solid Waste Tax stating that there are a lot of questions to be asked about intended target of its proceeds.
“I will not address anything other than we have off-budget money that belongs to the people of Barbados administered by God knows whom,” she said, adding that when the former administration implemented the Municipal Solid Waste Tax persons knew that the funds collected where being handled by the Accountant General and the Auditor General.
“At least when it was paid into the Consolidated Fund you knew that the Accountant General and the Auditor General would have oversight. Now that it is paid into I would have to say an off-the-books entity and then shared with a second entity, how do we know how those funds are one being managed and two being administered?
Depeiza said the new proposals lacked the “same level of oversight that we would have had if it were paid into the Consolidated Fund. That is the concern that I choose to raise outside of all of the others,” she stressed with applause from the party’s executive and party supporters.
Depeiza argued that the Solid Waste Tax when calculated is far worse than the Municipal Solid Waste Tax that was implemented by the Democratic Labour Party.
“When the last administration instituted a Municipal Solid Waste Tax there was a lot of furor in the country and a push back nationally against it. I do not know what your Solid Waste Tax bill looked like but mine was less than $300. What my water bill looks like this past month and if I extrapolate for a 12-month period I am going to be paying more in this new tax than the Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
“The difference is that the Solid Waste Tax was paid in a lumpsum and this one is being paid over a period of time. But the feeling in the pocket in the pocket is the same. A lumpsum will hurt you one time but then you can recover, or you can recover from it. This bill and these taxes create a whole slew of problems,” she said.