We welcome the Orders made by the Court of Appeal directing the Commissioner of Valuations to clarify that the demand by the Government for citizens to submit the Valuation Return Form (“VRF”) and supporting documents is purely voluntary.
This means that citizens are not under any legal duty to comply with this request. They now have the plain option to simply refuse to accede to this outrageous and unreasonable demand by the government without any fear or threat of legal sanction.
This is consistent with what we have been saying repeatedly that there was/is no legal obligation to submit the VRF and that there was/is no legal punishment for failure so to do.
We advise members of the public to think very carefully before sharing any information that is not required by law with the Government. The Government cannot be trusted and the information is liable to be misused to your detriment.
The Court’s directive that the Commissioner of Valuations publishes a Notice in all three daily newspapers is designed to clarify the deception and trickery of the Government. That deception caused hundreds of innocent citizens to sacrifice and take a day off from work to line up in the hot sun to submit documents because they felt that they had to meet Mr. Imbert’s deadline. They thought that if they did not meet his deadline they could be criminally prosecuted and sanctioned.
Today, we know that there is in fact no possibility of prosecution or sanction. The Court of Appeal would not have imposed these orders unless it felt that the Government had instilled a sense of confusion and fear in the population and hence the need to mandate the Commissioner to clear the air.
If any citizen wishes to disclose sensitive information to the Government such as pictures of their properties, building plan, rental agreements, completion certificate, approvals, site plans, telephone numbers, email addresses, land survey plan and building plan, then they do so at their own risk and peril. The Orders made by the Court of Appeal show that the Government cannot be trusted and that the Government was less than honest with the population.
It is unprecedented for the Court of Appeal to make such an unusual Order directing a public official whose mouth piece has been Mr. Imbert to publish advertisements because citizens were put in the unenviable position where they might have been tricked into complying with an unlawful demand.
We repeat our demand for the Government to reconsider this disastrous Property Tax because it will cripple and paralyze many families that are already living paycheck to paycheck not to mention the thousands who have lost their jobs under this administration. The resources, time and energy spent on imposing the property tax should be spent on fighting the scourge of violent crime and creating jobs instead. The country is in crisis and the government has got its priorities all wrong. They are serving themselves and not the people and are ignoring the desperate cries of the people for help.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
7th June 2017