Do away with property tax, privatise

Friday, December 27, 2013    

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Dear Editor,

Taxes are vital for the provision of public services, but politicians must not use this fact to impose unfair taxes. One such tax is the property tax, which is said to go directly to parish councils.

According to council officials, the property tax is responsible for constructing parochial roads, the maintenance of drains, and financing garbage collection. But contrary to public opinion, the termination of this tax will not disrupt the provision of public services.

Presently, Jamaica has one of the more rigid tax systems in the world, Jamaicans are already overtaxed and overburdened; therefore it should be the Government's intention to improve the tax system in order to achieve greater compliance.

Presently, Jamaica has one of the more rigid tax systems in the world, Jamaicans are already overtaxed and overburdened; therefore it should be the Government's intention to improve the tax system in order to achieve greater compliance.

When central Government refines its IT infrastructure, then more taxes will be paid into the government's coffers; relying on a property tax to maintain local roads will not be necessary. Further, although there is a property tax, many drains in poor communities are not being adequately maintained and repaired. We were to abolish the property tax and change the nature of the Constituency Development Fund then public services will be improved.

The Constituency Development Fund functions like a trough for garrison politicians and their dependents, hence the calls for it to be repealed. Instead of repealing the fund it should be used to improve the built environment, and the fact that a cash-strapped Administration is able to waste $75 million under the guise of Christmas programmes is an indication to taxpayers that politicians are willing to use their money to advance their political popularity.

The National Solid Waste Management Authority is inefficient and so a more competitive garbage disposal system is needed. Due to the company's uncompetitive pricing policy and mismanagement the agency is unable to maintain its vehicles, therefore there is a great reliance on private contractors, which are reportedly owed $761 million. Privatising the NSWMA and encouraging competition would not only result in a better service for consumers. But the company must be free from political cronyism.

The development approval process, too, is quite tardy and suffers at the hand of this bureaucracy called local government. Seeing most local government officials are not trained in procurement, the problem becomes even more complicated. Privatising the development approval process would make it easier to do business in Jamaica and eliminating the property tax could spark a boom in sectors like tourism and construction.

Citizens should not be fooled; local government will not improve a participatory democracy, less government equals more freedom and the property tax is just income redistribution programme.

Lipton Matthews

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