Last update: 09-Dec-2013 11:04 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Return of property tax deceptive, says Rowley
The proposed reintroduction of the property tax to be announced in today’s budget is an indication of how “deceptive’ the People’s Partnership Government can be. Making the remark was Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley as he toured Lopinot yesterday. “I think finally the population will understand how deceptive this government can be,” he said. “I want to make the point that the Government met a law in place and have taken an oath of office to observe the law. “It is not the first time this Government has tried to bring back what that they have condemned.” Saying the “bottom line” was that the PP Government ran a campaign against property tax, Rowley added that Finance Minister Larry Howai was “not fooling anyone.” “At the end of the tax, property owners will make a contribution by paying taxes...It used to be called Land and Building Taxes,” he said. “What you are going to end up with is the Government trying to convince you that it is not that but it is really that so let’s wait and see what the minister says.”
In the meantime, however, the Opposition Leader said, significant revenues have been lost during 2010 to 2013 from those who were “quite happy” to pay their land and building taxes. “Prakash Ramadhar and the COP condemned a tax which they are now seeking to reproduce as something different...It’s the same thing,” he said. “To own property you’re required to pay a tax based on the valuation. The minister is now saying it is not that it is different, it is that the last government did not consult,” Rowley said. He said the Government has now accepted that it was wrong, unreasonable and now looking for a way to bring back property tax “without losing political face.” On budget expectations, Rowley said he expected the Government to continue to be “irresponsible” which it had been doing in the past. “I expect the Government to do what it has been doing for the last three years which is to act as irresponsible as possible,” he said. “They believe they could please everybody by giving them what they want, even though by giving what they want you will not, in fact, improve their situation.”
He added what the country had lost in the last few years was the confidence to go forward and confidence to initiate. “And against that you had a government that virtually stopped everything that was going on in the country,” Rowley said. “The property tax was symptomatic of everything else. It was not just the property tax that they had gone against. They went against industrialisation, the revenue authority...everything that the previous government was doing, this government condemned.” He also accused the Government of “playing around for three years” and was now trying to find “something to do to make themselves useful.”
During yesterday’s walk, Rowley also introduced two of the PNM’s candidates who would be contesting October’s local government elections. Twenty-five year old Tova Lin Bartholomew, who has a bachelor of science degree in political science from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, described herself as an “admirer of politics” and one who enjoyed community work. “Looking at the current political landscape there is a deep desire for a new refreshment to the politics in T&T...This is probably my biggest challenge but I know I'm capable,” she said. Bartholomew would be contesting the Five Rivers/Lopinot district. Judy Garnar, who would be going up for the La Fluorescent/Clever district, said the community approached her to represent them. If elected, she said, one area to be immediately tackled was infrastructure.
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