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$12m ‘lapse’


marciadottin, [email protected]

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Opposition Leader Mia Mottley charged yesterday that Barbados lost about $12 million in revenue since 2008 because of the delinquency of Senator Darcy Boyce.She made that assertion in the House of Assembly during debate on the Betting And Gaming Duties (Amendment) Bill, 2010. Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had earlier indicated the amendment would correct an existing anomaly and allow for greater legislative control over video lottery terminals without apertures, found at locations other than arcades and hotels.Stuart explained that the Comptroller of Customs previously granted licence for the importation of 349 gaming machines, but they were only released in 2008 through an administrative decision that allowed importers access to them following the removal of the apertures into which money was inserted. Previously, gaming machines were only legally allowed in arcades and hotels.But Mottley drew the Lower House’s attention to the Auditor General’s 2009 report which highlighted aspects of the importation and control of the 349 gaming machines. $15 000 per machineShe said the report indicated that the video lottery terminals were required to pay an annual licence fee of $15 000 on each machine. “The effect of removing apertures from these video lottery terminals is unclear in terms of how they are being classified and what annual licence fees should be paid for them. There are currently no licence fees paid on these machines,” Mottley read from the report.The St Michael North East MP then questioned why it had taken Government so long after the 2008 administrative decision to bring the amendment before Parliament.She said Senator Boyce was Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, and the paperwork on the amendment, which she put at no more than three paragraphs, fell within his purview. She added if the amendment had been made earlier Government would have collected a much needed $12 million in taxes from the owners of the video lottery machines.Mottley said Boyce was effectively running the Ministry of Finance and had a moral duty to perform this specific task with “alacrity and vigour”. She said his “delinquency” suggested Government could “wink” at the loss of $12 million.She stated while Government was winking at that sum for 27 months, other legitimate slot machine owners had been paying taxes. Taxation, she said, should not be discriminatory.But St Lucy MP Denis Kellman defended Boyce.He said if Mottley was saying Government had lost millions in revenue since 2008, she should take her calculations back to 2004 when the machines were first brought. He said the previous Barbados Labour Party administration was in power for 14 years and did nothing with the specific legislation.During his wrap-up of the bill, which was passed, Stuart expressed consternation as to how Mottley could rationally apportion blame to Boyce. (WG)

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