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Victory for the people—Kamla
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says they were prepared to challenge the Government on the re-introduction of the property tax all the way to the Privy Council.
She made the comment during a hastily called news conference at her Charles Street, Port-of-Spain office last evening, after Justice Frank Seepersad granted former government minister Devant Maharaj an injunction in his challenge of the Property Tax in the San Fernando High Court.
“This injunction is a victory for the people and testimony to the political strength of the UNC,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“The injunction effectively blocks the Government from continuing this reckless path to tax our people into poverty. No one should comply with the request to submit their personal information and the valuation form until the court makes a final pronouncement.”
Persad-Bissessar told reporters the Opposition “welcomed the grant of this injunction”, adding that it (the Opposition) kept its promise to embark on “a strong and forceful legal challenge to the illegal and unconstitutional action of the Minister of Finance and acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert.”
She said the “mad rush” to implement the tax “at a time when citizens are losing their jobs, the cost of living is ever increasing and people are being forced to spend money they do not have to protect themselves from criminals is cruel and heartless.” (See page A5)
Persad-Bissessar noted that when the property tax legislation was passed in Parliament in 2009, it was not done with a special majority. She insisted that the legislation “interferes with several fundamental rights in our Constitution.”
She said: “It violates the right not to be deprived of the right to use and enjoy one’s protection without due process of law and the protection of the law.”
She said the valuation process was “illegal because the Government failed to bring the Valuation of Lands Act to Parliament for proper consideration and amendments.”
Persad-Bissessar also said the Government was scared to do this because “the UNC will not give our support to the introduction of the property tax.”
She said the “wide-ranging request for citizens’ personal information under the threat of criminal sanction is unconstitutional and illegal.”