The United National Congress condemns the reckless and scandalous attempt by Finance Minister Colm Imbert to subvert and undermine the judicial process by inviting property owners to continue to submit their valuation forms.
We condemn such deception and trickery by the government. It is a shameless attempt to hoodwink citizens into voluntarily submitting themselves to a valuation process in the face of a strong legal challenge which seeks to have the Court declare that the entire process is unconstitutional and illegal.
This may be seen as another attempt by the government geared towards undermining the Order of the Court and the rule of law. It borders on contempt, and is a clear violation that breaches both the spirit and letter of the Court’s Order.
Citizens who submit these forms would be putting themselves at risk, as the information could give the government an unfair advantage over them when the Court is yet to rule on the legality and validity of the process being utilized. Ironically, citizens would be helping the government to dig their own property tax graves.
Property owners should not allow themselves to be tricked and deceived by the government into submitting these forms when they are under no obligation to do so.
The stay granted by the High Court remains in effect and this is a disingenuous and disgraceful attempt by the government to sidestep the injunction granted by the Court and continue with this illegal process to levy the property tax.
We therefore call upon the government to respect the Court Order and allow due process to take its course.
We call upon Minister Colm Imbert to cease and desist from his outrageous and arrogant conduct and respect the judicial process.
We commend public officers for refusing to accept these forms and ask that they not allow themselves to be used as political pawns to commit contempt of court.
We call upon citizens to ignore this reckless and foolish attempt by Minister Colm Imbert to try to undermine the Constitution, the rule of law and the judicial process by trying to get valuation forms through the back door because the Courts stopped him from entering their front door.
The Constitution is our supreme law and the Property Tax Act violates our citizens’ fundamental rights. No one is above the law however arrogant they are and, Mr. Imbert is not immune for prosecution for contempt of court if necessary.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Political Leader, United National Congress
23rd May 2017