?The UNC will scrap the property tax when it forms the next Government, UNC deputy leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar promised yesterday. Speaking in yesterday's House of Representatives debate on the tax, Persad-Bissessar said people doing the usual Christmas season repairs–painting, renovations or additions to their homes–would be increasing the value of their property and could risk higher taxes. Persad-Bissessar, deeming the tax a poverty tax, said the UNC would take the Government to court if the property tax legislation was passed in the way it was currently framed. "This is the biggest con job I've ever seen," Persad- Bissessar said, adding she was not supporting the bill.
"Have a heart, it's Christmas time, hold back debate and roll this bill back and look at it again... but a UNC Government will scrap the tax completely," she said. Accusing Government of squandering taxpayers' money, Persad-Bissessar said Government was perpetrating "economic terrorism" by presenting the tax at a time of high food prices, inflation and other hardships in T&T. She added: "This is Christmas, the time of giving gifts, and here in Christmas week you are taking money from the people at this time of giving – you won't have happy citizens over this Christmas." Persad-Bissessar projected that the tax would cause rents, mortgage payments and WASA rates to increase and UWI students would have to pay more for accommodation.
She said consumers also would have to pay more for goods and services since owners of commercial buildings would have to pay the property tax. Criticising last Friday's incident, when people protesting the tax outside the Parliament clashed with police, Persad-Bissessar said: "We saw what happened when people raised their voices and were beaten and brutalised." She asked whether persons unable to pay the property tax would be confronted with a "mongoose gang" who would break down their doors for the tax. "Will you be using state resources to do this? You did it with the LSA and squatters... who is the Board of Inland Revenue to authorise people to break down doors?" she added.
She said she was concerned about the constitutionality of the bill. On the Uff inquiry, Persad-Bissessar said there was uncontested evidence against Udecott head Calder Hart. She called on Prime Minister Patrick Manning to fire Hart. Persad-Bissessar claimed Government would be spending $200 million in software to implement mechanisms to collect the tax. (GA)