WILD COOT: People bawling
I went to the newly-named supermarket and was accosted in the most blackguardish way by a young lady.
?“You Wild Coot, yuh screaming! You ain’t see nothing yet! Don’t mind he put you in this hole, his duty is to get you out. The whole country saying ‘no devaluation’, well no devaluation! We must get the country back on stream.
To do that we need investments so that the projects can start, money can flow, merchants can profit, taxes will come, employment can be restored, and our GDP will be a higher percentage than our debt. The debt must be reduced both locally and foreign so that money can be spent on education and the hospital.
“You have $8.9 billion in the banks and bawling about a little waste tax? You say you rather suck salt than devalue; here is a kilo, suck on.
“You just refuse to pay the tax and you will see. He will pass a law that if you want to go to the bathroom, you have to pay tax – like tourists in Monaco. We no longer have Inland Revenue. We have Revenue Authority collecting taxes left, right and centre, recording all taxes. If you do not pay in the WAT (Wunnah Annihilation Tax) or VAT (Very Arbitrary Tax), yuh cannot enjoy our services, yuh goods cannot clear customs even for a Christmas barrel. If you do not have tax clearance, don’t get sick and go to no polyclinic or the QEH – in any case they may not have the necessary medicine.
“You marching with placards saying yuh not paying the taxes, soon you will be saying ‘save the dollar’. He made the promise to investors over and away coming to Barbados that there will be a change in this island like the second coming in the Bible. You will see fire and brimstone. He will be the one appearing in the sky cutting from left to right. You tell he to cut, well he cutting now and the Revenue Authority is the sword.
“He making it easy for you, just drop off your cheque in town. Phase two will be called TAR (Tax Clearance Regime). If you want to hold a fete or invite any foreign performer, make sure your VAT is up to date. Not even the churches getting away from the WAT.
We may even garnishee the collection, and you know that the churches sitting on a lot of land. They will have to check on the living families of the deceased to contribute for the grave sites. They could preach like Peter and pray like Paul, but get the congregations to support a second collection. What about the schools, the Central Bank, the car parks, Pelican Village, the Massy supermarkets, the hotels, Queen’s Park, the port, the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, the Lloyd Sandiford Auditorium and the list goes on?
“Ef yuh think we making mock sport, go into a bank and try to get a mortgage and see if they wouldn’t demand WAT clearance. If yuh already have a mortgage, a letter will soon be coming to you from the bank or credit union demanding to see evidence of having paid the WAT. Yuh remember the song that the Mighty Sparrow used to sing – Free Coco-cola Sharing Round the Savannah.
“You ask if he does not have a heart. Did he not promise that you could pay out of the little pension and wait for the ‘remit’. This ‘remit’ will come back to you after much scrutiny by the Revenue Authority. You old people and pensioners, he give you something to think about when you lying in that coffin and contemplating your next move.”
Well, well, I was dumbfounded. The tax is the thin edge of the wedge, and unless it is repealed, both political parties will use it. Tomorrow it may be 0.7 per cent.
The legislation is badly and hastily structured. Another young lady asked me: “Wild Coot, why the law pass in such a hurry? Who they want to pay off urgently? Who they want to bring on stream urgently? Somebody out to sue them for breach of contract?
Are we all to suffer for dah body? Are they going to stop we from selling property unless the tax is paid even though there is no mention of that in the legislation? That would mean that it is a land tax pun top a land tax.”
But Wild Coot, what about the people?
All I say is that vultures come in different forms.
• Harry Russell is a banker.
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