Just over a year after the Mia Mottley-led Government implemented the Garbage and Sewage Collection (GSC) levy, head of the Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) Bishop Joseph Atherley is demanding an account of how those monies are being spent.
This morning the Opposition Leader told Barbados TODAY that he is far from satisfied with the level of transparency surrounding the collection of the funds, the majority of which is to go towards the country’s garbage collection needs. He argued that given the garbage pileups across the island, there is little to show that the funds are spent as intended. He therefore called on Government to declare how much the tax has yielded and how much has been spent
“I am not at all satisfied with the level of transparency and I think we need the quantum that has been achieved through the imposition of that charge and I think the public needs to know how the revenues derived are being utilized to address the serious problems within the system. I don’t think that there is a sufficient amount of information being disseminated to the public ,” said Atherley
In June 2018, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced in her $1.2 billion austerity Budget, that effective August 1 that year, each household would pay $1.50 per day – about $45 per month – in GSC, while commercial premises would pay GSC equivalent to 50 per cent of their water bills. Pensioners living alone will pay 75 cents a day
Since then, progress at the Sanitation Service Authority has been labored, with only two of the promised 14 new garbage trucks arriving thus far to replenish the aged complement at state-owned garbage collection agency
In addition, with Government cutting overtime and staff refusing to shift from and Monday to Friday work week, to an arrangement of any five days out of seven, the SSA has found it difficult to fill a number of shifts. With the combination of manpower and equipment shortage, the result has been an exacerbation of garbage pileups across the island
However, Atherley contends that this does not add up, as the SSA continues to receive $28 million from the consolidated fund and by his calculation, the GSC should have produced approximately $45 million just from the revenue collected from homes. He further argued that with this type of funding available to the SSA, there should be no excuses for the garbage collection woes which the country has been facing
“I don’t know that trucks being stuck in Japan, as has been suggested publicly by various voices, is an excuse. I can’t say that the trucks being stuck wherever was an attempt to offer an excuse, but what I can say publicly is that if you are paying a Garbage and Sewage Collection tax, then there would be a legitimate expectation that we would have seen more significant improvement in the areas of services that we receive. Certainly, persons should expect better and more efficient garbage collection. So these are all questions that need to be answered,” he stressed. [email protected]