Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is urging Government to rethink its position on implementing the Property Tax at this time.
A newspaper article today stated that the Finance Minister Colm Imbert is looking to the tax to earn state revenues help keep the country afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar points to the current economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes job and income losses for thousands.
She believes enforcing the tax at this time will add to the burden on citizens and increase their hardship:
“We urge the Government to have a heart and hold on the implementation of the dreaded property tax in the upcoming 2021 budget. We have seen close to 100,000 citizens losing their jobs over the past five years and even more have become unemployed with the difficult economic environment in the past few months. Further, persons who are renting have complained of the slow pace of approvals for rent relief, while others are constrained with mortgage payments. Citizens have been hanging on by a rapidly thinning thread and if any additional taxes are imposed, it will only result in increased hardship. By allowing citizens to keep more of their own money by not implementing the property tax, people will have more resources to reinvest into the economy.”
Mrs Persad-Bissessar instead insists that there are other ways to generate revenue.
She adds that she is willing to share ideas and proposals with the Government on these new revenue-generating projects.
FINANCE MINISTER RESPONDS TO ARTICLE
Finance Minister Colm Imbert meanwhile responded to the newspaper article, taking issue of its headline which was “New Tax Coming”.
In a tweet, Mr Imbert stated: “Yesterday I was asked whether the Government was still committed to property tax and I reminded the media that we had made this clear in our 2020 Manifesto. Property tax was first enacted into law 10 YEARS AGO, yet the Newsday runs a completely erroneous headline “NEW TAX COMING”.
He also dismissed the article as being contradictory, saying it “falsely alleged” that he warned about “harsh budget measures” at the post-Cabinet press conference but then stated that he refused to reveal anything.