TOURISM MATTERS: Disposal of waste everyone’s concern
WHILE AT FIRST this week’s column may seem to stray from the subject matter and purpose, the consequence of certain actions has a direct negative effect on our tourism performance.
As a business we get absolutely no free state collection of garbage. We sort and separate everything we can with the wonderful assistance of B’s Recycling and virtually everything else we pay private contractors to collect and dispose of at a considerable cost.
Therefore, when the municipal solid waste tax was imposed, almost without warning, the additional (in our case) $8 000 a year in further unbudgeted taxation was especially irksome as we have been asked to pay for something we do not in any way benefit from directly.
Compounding this already unfair situation is the announced tipping fee which the waste disposal companies will be forced to pass on to their customers like us.
This at a time when we are among many businesses who have been forced to wait more than two years for submitted value added tax refunds without any interest being paid.
Clearly the commercial banks will not extend interest free overdrafts to companies like ours to allow for Government’s inability to meet their obligations, so the financial challenges are further compounded as time goes by.
From a tourism perspective, I really also wonder if our policymakers have truly thought this through. While you cannot condemn any Government for indiscriminate dumping, clearly there has been a marked increase in this unfortunate practice, especially in some of our outstanding natural beauty spots. Does anyone think for a single second that our visitors do not notice these blights on our amazing landscape?
And especially important to consider is that the vast majority of people who visit our shores originate from countries that already have sophisticated waste disposal systems. Surely, there is more both the political administration and private sector can do to encourage more separation and recycling?
If companies like B’s can provide a service like they do, hopefully make a profit and at no cost to the taxpayer, surely that is the direction we should be heading in. Rather than incur further massive national debts which could lead to private sector company insolvency and job losses.
As Government has granted unilateral unprecedented concessions to a tiny section of the tourism sector, then it can only be reasonable, fair and prudent to give that same fiscal advantage to the people who are processing our waste without levying a further burden on the taxpayer?
I don’t think there can be a rational person on Barbados that fails to understand the current economic situation the administration finds itself and all sorts of blame and criticism can be levelled in many directions.
But there is much more that can be done to improve our tourism environment without costing a fortune. We just have to identify those willing, able and ready to make those big decisions before we lose our reputation as a mostly pristine and desirable destination.