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Timely state audit

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald’s announcement of an audit of state assets, in this case housing, is a welcome initiative. Indeed, at a time when energy revenue is no longer flowing freely, the issue of state asset usage takes on more significance. What is stunning about the exercise, however, is the fact that scores of individuals who are illegally living in these properties are now prepared to challenge the state.

In some cases, the team doing the audit is said to have encountered relatives of long-retired public servants who have “inherited” the housing, dating back decades. Some of these state agents have not only long been retired but also now even deceased in some cases.

Of course, this shows up one aspect of state malaise we are all too fully aware of. This activity has only gone on and apparently flourished because there is no proper mechanism in place to monitor the allocation of these properties and their return following the end of the public servants’ tenures in office. How many times have John Public heard of the state having to find new assets to house public servants?

Now, it turns out that such exercises could have been avoided had individuals occupying state properties illegally been evicted and been made available to those state agents now duly waiting in line.

So maybe Government should use this current exercise as a catalyst for change, since we are sure similar exercises in other ministries and state agencies will save the state hundreds of millions more.

Egg in NLCB’s faces

Someone at the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) needs to explain by what process they decided to implement the new ten per cent taxation on winnings over $1,000 although the law had not yet been proclaimed by President Paula-Mae Weekes.

Gamblers had been put on notice of the impending tax since last year when Finance Minister Colm Imbert read the budget. And so it was expected that the NLCB would have had to put the technology in place to make the deductions. This is part and parcel of the operationalisation of any new process. But the question of why the taxation was implemented before the law actually came into force remains unanswered by the NLCB.

In fact, the press release which announced the reversal of the taxation only explained that an error was made.

What should have also come was an apology and the board must now come forward and explain why this occurred. This is because taxpayers’ dollars were spent on an advertising campaign announcing an impending change which was premature.

Good luck ladies

We would like to wish the ten contestants in this evening’s Miss World T&T Pageant all the best in their efforts to win the honour of representing the country at the forthcoming international pageant. Having said that, we urge citizens to go to the National Academy for the Performing Arts to support the contestants.


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