Daily Archives: July 12, 2011

Barbados VAT shortfall: a cultural problem of rule of law?

Barbados Government announces it has hired a consultant! OOOOOOH!!!!

(VAT delinquents must be shaking in their boots!)

Barbados Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler recently held a press conference to announce that the Government of Barbados has failed miserably to collect a staggering $300 million dollars in VAT arrears.

That wasn’t exactly how Sinckler put it though. With typical political bluster he announced that the government was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY going to get tough and enforce laws that are on the books.

This time.

Here’s what the press release said said…

“The hammer could be coming down on those Value Added Tax (VAT) defaulters who have racked up a staggering $300 million in arrears inclusive of penalties and interest.”

And it got better…

“Given this situation, Mr. Sinckler disclosed that a consultant had been hired to review the legislation as it related to collections and enforcement.  He also revealed that the consultant had already submitted the draft amendments which were being reviewed by officials in the Customs and Excise Department.”

My God! A consultant, reviewed the legislation and submitted draft amendments that are being reviewed RIGHT NOW!!!

Wuhloss!!! I’d better pay up that VAT tomorrow.

Or… maybe the next day. 🙂

Frankly, Sinckler sounded an awful lot like the Commissioner of Police warning gangs that if he had the officers and the budget, the gangs would really really really have to worry. And the Commissioner of Police sounded an awful lot like the Minister of the Environment talking foolish saying that the government was going to install hidden cameras all over the island to catch illegal tippers.

A Culture that disregards Rule of Law

Could it be that the problem is that Bajans have been conditioned that laws and rules are generally optional depending upon circumstance and position? Could it be that we’ve learned from the big-ups that laws, if they exist at all, don’t apply to all? That is the way it is on de rock. Anyone can name a dozen situations and stories – most of them true.

And where laws don’t exist (integrity legislation, drunk driving, freedom of information, environmental legislation) they are to be promised at election time but never ever implemented. That is what we have been taught by our political elites and we have learned our lessons well from skilled masters.

“Doan give me such a fright, Minister Sinckler! For a moment I thought you were serious, but then I remembered all the other laws that your government promised to pass.”

Pass me another beer, darlin’. I don’t think we need to hurry off to pay that VAT right this moment! 🙂


Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Politics