Today I call upon the Prime Minister to stop misleading the population and tell the truth. It is my duty to ensure that the public is not misled and is aware of truth of the matter, as such I must correct the misinformation. Last night during a PNM Meeting in Belmont, Dr. Rowley made two deliberately misleading and incorrect statements relating to Property Tax:
1. You have to own property to pay Property Tax – NOT TRUE
Had the Prime Minister taken some time to get some legal advice before he opened his mouth or bothered to listen to the debates in Parliament regarding the Property Tax law, he would have educated himself that persons who are not the owners of land will be required to pay Property Tax. At section 3 of the Property Tax Act, it clearly states that the owner of land is defined as the owner or occupier of any land. During the debate on the Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2018 in the Senate, both Minister Imbert and Minister West, admitted that squatters will be liable to pay Property Tax.
2. The money that is collected from Property Tax will be used for Local Government – NOT TRUE
Unlike most other countries, Property Tax will not be collected by and used exclusively for Local Government. Under the present law, Property Tax will be collected by the Board of Inland Revenue, the taxes paid will go into the Consolidated Fund. At the Committee Stage of the Property Tax (Amendment)
Bill 2018 in the Senate, an amendment was proposed to the Property Tax Bill to allow for Property Tax to be used exclusively to finance the operations of Local Government bodies in Trinidad.
Minister Imbert did not at the time agree with the amendment and gave an undertaking to amend the law for at least taxes collected on residential properties to be used by Local Government bodies. He never fulfilled his undertaking to amend the law. So, Minister Imbert is fully aware of the present state of the law and should have briefed the Hon. Prime Minister that the Property Tax will not be used solely for Local Government. I am disappointed by Minister Imbert as he sat by and allowed Dr. Rowley to publicly embarrass himself.
Member of Parliament for Barataria / San Juan