Government moved today to get its house in order so it can meet its financial obligations to citizens and companies by amending the Value Added Tax Act, Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn told the House of Assembly today.
Straughn led debate on the amendments which he said were intended to deal with “millions of dollars” in refunds the Government owes to Barbadians and companies.
He told lawmakers: “Upon coming to office we recognised that Barbadians as well as Barbadian companies across this country were owed millions of dollars in refunds from the Government of Barbados. We felt then and we still feel now that the Government has a responsibility Sir not to put in peril the finances of companies, the finances of individuals.
“We seek to rebalance the administration of the public finance that we put this country on a trajectory where persons can on one hand comply with their tax obligations, but on the other hand Sir that we so manage our public finances that refunds are actually repaid in a timely manner so that households businesses and individuals would be able to plan out their operations and plan out their affairs.”
The Christ East Central MP said that in paying those owed, Government was also seeking to “regain the trust” of taxpayers.
Straughn said: “The Barbados Labour Party has taken the position that as we bring back some order to the system and in a real sense regain the trust of the taxpayers because we do not want people to be whispering among one another about who got paid and who didn’t get pay.
“If you ply the Government with any good or service or if the Government owes you a refund it should be certain. Therefore we have a plan for resolving not only the tax refunds but also the payment for goods and services.”
Straughn said he was optimistic that once all the measures were put in place and people were paid what they are owed their level of “anxiety” would be a thing of the past.
“We are trying to rebuild the trust in the system because the Government through its various agencies they are the ones who interface with the public.
“I know there has been a lot of anxiety as it relates to taxes once the public is seeing a level of public good and public service that is being offered that is commensurate in terms of what they are seeing in the taxing the conversation shifts away from whether you are paying too much to what it is you are getting for the taxes you are paying,” The Finance Minister said.