Legal Affairs Minister Peter Taylor has criticised Dr Keith Rowley, MP for Diego Martin West, for what he described as having done a "very great disservice" to the facts surrounding the proposed property tax. "The Member for Diego Martin West sought, to my mind, to do a very great disservice to the facts and to what the property tax is really meant to do," said Taylor. "I was unhappy with some of the contentions of the contributions of Rowley, MP for Diego Martin West, who spoke of the fact that local communities and local government will not benefit from the tax." He criticised as irrelevant Rowley's example of someone having a property of a $1 million with no intention of renting it out and, despite this, it will now be subject to tax. "Property tax issue is not about renting your property out or not. The crux of the tax is once you have a building or land, it is liable to be taxed," he said.
He said raising taxes are a natural part of what any government does and said the property tax would raise an estimated $250 million in revenue. "The government should have no excuse to make in wanting to increase taxation. That's how the nation's business is attended to," he said. Taylor was commenting yesterday on statements Rowley made on Friday in Parliament during the debate on the amendments of the Property Tax Bill. Taylor said the new Property Tax Bill will not bring any new hardships to T&T. "At any point of time, in any nation, in any time of the world, there will be people who live on the edge of society. The property tax is not unique in that regard. The government has already taken account of that with a blanket of social support that even pre-dated the property tax," he said.
Taylor defended the bill's amendments, saying there is nothing unfair about it. "The new tax regime must reflect the value of people's property that has now been elevated to. There is nothing onerous or unfair about that. Persons have been living off the fat of the land for too long and have become comfortable," he said. Taylor said the time had reached for the property tax legislation to be updated. "With respect to the property tax, you can see a clear distinction between the Old Land and Building Act of 1920, which has all the paraphernalia of colonialism...but we have long passed that. We need to bring the legislation in tune with a modern society and democracy," Taylor said.