PNM-style property tax ‘won’t work’
Carla Bridglal and Jensen LaVende
Headlines proclaiming the return of the property tax are causing discomfort for the Congress of the People (COP), political leader Prakash Ramadhar said yesterday.
“If there is indeed a return to the People’s National Movement (PNM)-style property tax, the COP will take a very firm stand on it,” he stated at a media conference at the party’s Operations Centre in Charlieville.
The COP was instrumental in the “Axe the Tax” campaign against the PNM during the run-up to the 2010 general election.
The PNM’s proposal to re-evaluate the valuation of properties and rates of the former Land and Building tax regime had been a sore point among voters, and one of the coalition People’s Partnership promises had been to repeal the Property Tax Act of 2009, and not implement any such legislation until there was proper consultation.
As such, property taxes have not been collected for three years and the Treasury has therefore foregone millions of dollars in revenue.
“My discussions with (Finance Minister Larry Howai) say that it in no way resembles the PNM property tax... we deal with the land and building taxes,” said Ramadhar. “He had spoken of the assessment for valuations.
“Remember when we started ‘Axe the Tax’ it was the issue of taxing with a valuation that was so out of whack that many people would not have been able to afford it. Also taxes would not have gone for infrastructural development in the area but to the Consolidated Fund.”
On Saturday, Finance Minister Larry Howai, who is scheduled to present the 2013/2014 national budget today in Parliament, said property taxes will return, but on a phased implementation.
He also said the valuation system will be the same as the PNM’s, but the difference with this new regime is the whole process of consultation about the rate.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, on a walkabout in Lopinot yesterday, said with the return of the tax, “finally the population will understand how deceptive this Government has been”.
“This is not the first time this Government has brought back what they have condemned.
“They did not repeal the property tax; it’s still there in the books... the bottom line is that these people in office ran a campaign against property tax.
“The Minister of Finance is not fooling anyone; they are finally coming around to accepting what they have condemned. It is simple as that,” he said.
Rowley said at the end of the day property owners will make a contribution by paying taxes, whether it is called land and building taxes or the property tax.
“In the meantime, we have lost significant revenue from 2010 to 2013 from people who were quite happy to pay their taxes,” he said.