The issuance of registration stickers for vehicles and the renewal of drivers’ licences have been suspended by the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) for the next two weeks.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, said this was being done to assist in the reduction of movement of persons between now and April 14, in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
During a press conference by Zoom early today, Mr. Straughn stated: “Persons would not be charged obviously or fined in any way given this period of time with respect to that facilitation …. So, even if your driver’s licence [has to be renewed] or you don’t have the [registration] sticker on your vehicle, there is no penalty with respect to that, given the truncated hours that these offices will be operating.”
The tax filing season begins on April 1, and the Minister said persons would be encouraged to file online as normal. He explained that those persons who would benefit from the reverse tax credit and the compensatory income credit, those who earned between $25,000 and $35,000 in 2019, should file as soon as the filing period opens.
“We want to be in a position to have the Revenue Authority process as quickly as possible those persons who would benefit from the reverse tax credit of $1,300 as well as those … who will benefit from the compensatory income credit…. We want to be in a position to process those returns as quickly as possible, and as soon as possible thereafter have the specific monies disseminated to people,” he said.
Mr. Straughn noted that a lot of businesses had been impacted as a result of COVID-19, and had made a number of decisions relating to their operations.
He said it was anticipated that there would be an increase in unemployment claims to the National Insurance Department.
He reminded that persons could submit their unemployment claims digitally by emailing employeeU3forms@bginis.gov.bb (for employees), email@example.com (for employers) or place them in the drop box at the E. Humphrey Walcott Building.
He pointed out that the National Insurance Department had made provisions for the processing of those forms and suggested that it would be useful for those impacted persons to immediately submit forms.
Additionally, he stated that persons who accessed benefits from the National Insurance Scheme could submit their banking or credit union information to the department so they could be facilitated in having the money sent to their accounts.
Noting that the banks and credit unions were operating on a limited basis at this time, he continued: “This would allow persons not to traverse those institutions to cash cheques and they would have easy access to their benefits.”
Mr. Straughn reminded the population of the 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew until April 14, 2020, as well as the limited movement during the day.
“You may not have heard me speak a lot about the economy in recent times, specifically because our effort in containing the spread of COVID-19 is critical to the Government’s response. Therefore, the mission now is to ensure that persons can stay at home as much as possible ….
“What we do in the next two weeks will give the country the best opportunity to be successful at containing the spread of the virus,” he insisted. He clarified that it was not a 24-hour curfew as was suggested in a document with his name, which was circulated last night.