Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Barbados government critices banks, lawyers

Published:Friday | May 26, 2017 | 5:00 AM
Finance Minister of Barbados, Chris Sinckler.

The Barbados government on Wednesday described as "unfortunate and unwarranted" the decision by local banks to suspend transactions for real estate and related activities.

The action comes amid concerns over recent amendments to the Barbados Revenue Authority Act, which requires a Tax Clearance Certificate to be issued by the authority in order to complete real estate transactions.

In a statement, Finance Minister Chris Sinckler said that some stakeholders in the legal and banking fraternity had not given the system time to work, "purely on the grounds that they did not want it in the first place".

He charged that they were finding every reason to object to it.

"It is rather unfortunate that some banks and some lawyers in Barbados are hell bent on frustrating government's legitimate attempts to collect the tax revenue that is due to the state by their clients. First they said it was unconstitutional, then they said they were not clear about how the law would work, now they are claiming it is delaying transactions because the BRA cannot give Tax Clearance Certificates fast enough," Sinckler said.

The finance minister insisted that they were all excuses for non-cooperation with the government generally, and the Barbados Revenue Authority, BRA, specifically, as they seek to collect tax revenue due to the state.

"It is nothing short of amazing that these very actors have, at times in the past, sought to defend and excuse the reason why it takes as long and costs clients as much as it does to complete their work in getting mortgage and other real estate transactions done; but now are apparently determined to hold an entire country to ransom because they do not wish to cooperate with government to halt the chronic haemorrhaging of tax revenue in Barbados," said Sinckler.

"It is unwarranted and sad, and especially so since I am suitably advised that the BRA and the Bankers' Association had agreed to a sit-down meeting next week, prior to this action being sprung on it (the BRA) without notice".

The minister added that the law would remain in place, while asserting that the government would "not be bullied into repealing it because some people believe it should not be".

He said that he was confident that any real or perceived challenges with the new system could and would be resolved "once reasonable people sit down and work through the issues".

- CMC