Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler greets BCCI President, Lalu Vaswani at yesterday’s BCCI luncheon at Hilton Barbados while Executive Director, Lisa Gale looks on. (A. Miller/BGIS)
Government is moving full steam ahead to launch the Barbados Revenue Authority this year.
This disclosure came yesterday from Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, as he addressed the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s monthly luncheon at Hilton Barbados.
Mr. Sinckler stressed it had become necessary to institute the Authority because of issues at the Customs Department and in revenue collection generally and promised that Government would discuss what it is proposing to do with the labour unions.
Outlining why it was critical to set up the Authority, he stated: "…Barbados was asked to explain how it was that in the reporting to the World Customs Organisation… last year 2012, Japan reported exporting in value US $68 million in reconditioned or used vehicles to Barbados. However, when Barbados put up its figures, based on the submissions of the persons who imported, the reported value was BDS $30 million.
"It meant, therefore, that Barbados was basically saying that there was under- invoicing to the extent of almost $30 million. That is a startling figure. Of course you can understand why the World Customs Organisation would want to ask Barbados why there was such a big variance between what Japan was reporting."
The Minister also shared with his audience information about an incident, where a fairly expensive model car arrived in the island, and it had a reported value of US$ 9,000. But, according to him, the real value sheet, which was left on the dashboard, was actually US$ 60,000 for the used car.
"I started to think how, if this type of situation is occurring on a regular basis, the amount of revenue that Government is losing in the Port because of under- invoicing. I know a lot of you in here know that it goes on, it is a very serious situation and it has to be corrected. And, with the coming of the Barbados Revenue Authority, things down there will change and change significantly. So brace yourselves for the coming storm," he warned.
Mr. Sinckler promised his audience of business people that Government would work assiduously with them and other stakeholders in an effort to turn the current economic situation around as quickly as they could.
But, he stressed that under no circumstances had he or any member of the Freundel Stuart-led administration withheld vital information from the public of Barbados on the state of this island’s economy.
In addition, he dismissed the rumours that the country would be entering some formal International Monetary Fund programme and that its dollar would be devalued. "Let me state categorically for the record, from where I sit and from what I know, there will be no IMF programme in Barbados. Not now, not June, not this year and if we act as we are supposed to act, not in the foreseeable future. And there absolutely will not be any devaluation of the Barbados dollar," Mr. Sinckler said adamantly.
He further denied that he had discussions to retrench 6,000 public servants. "It is an insidious and unsubstantiated untruth. No such meeting took place. No file has been sent to me, contrary to what has been said, with any such recommendation and certainly no such discussion has taken place in my Ministry. I want to make that abundantly clear," he stated.