Despite complaining about increased costs as a result of Government’s Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) levy, and being given an opportunity for a review, farmers are yet to present the Ministry of Agriculture with evidence of their burden.
Word of this has come from Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir, who pointed out that a promise made by Prime Minister Mia Mottley to review the impact that the tax was having on businesses still stands.
“So far I have not had any information giving me the detail, the quantitative analysis to show how the water is affecting the farmers in terms of inputs, in terms of unit costs, in terms of costs to the final consumer, and that analysis has to be done,” Weir told Barbados TODAY, following a tour of the Christ Church-based Chickmont Foods Ltd operations on Monday.
Following the introduction of the tax, on August 1, hoteliers and farmers especially complained about the increased cost they would be forced to shoulder, with some farmers even putting consumers on notice of price increases as a result.
The GSC requires the farmers and other businesses to pay a levy equivalent to 50 per cent of their water bills. Householders pay $1.50 per day.
Last month, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul suggested that skyrocketing water bills was one of the factors contributing to local farmers being forced to operate at a disadvantage.
“For instance, you have had water bills from farmers of $8,000, which have gone to $12,000 and sometimes more. A lot of farmers see the imposition of these taxes as being unfair,” said Paul.
However, in June Prime Minister Mia Mottley promised that she would “assess the situation” with a view to possibly setting a new fee for the tourism industry and the “industrial sector”.
“We will await the first three months of bills from the tourism sector and industrial sector – those who use a large amount of water – to be able to see, if necessary, an appropriate cap as we have done with land tax in this country,” Mottley had said.
However, four billing cycles later and farmers are yet to present their case before the Ministry of Agriculture.
Weir insisted that the only way any review could be done was after a careful assessment of the water bills. However, he said with no one presenting the evidence so far, no adjustments could be made.
“Provide us with the evidence that we can see what the issues are and they will be addressed. That still stands,” said Weir.