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80% property taxes collected last fiscal year

Sunday, April 13, 2014    

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The Government met 80 per cent of its target for property tax collections in the 2013/14 fiscal year.

Senior Director of Revenue Enhancement and Resource Mobilisation in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Calvert Thomas, told the government news agency, the Jamaica Information Service that approximately $5.8 billion of the $7.26 billion revenue target was collected.

Thomas said this was a satisfactory performance, given the challenges faced by many parish councils in collecting outstanding property taxes.

The target for the 2013/14 fiscal year was increased to $7.26 billion from $2.8 billion in the previous fiscal year.

Thomas said this was due to the removal of deficit financing from the Consolidated Fund in financing street lights and solid waste management in accordance with requirements of Jamaica's deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"As a result of that, the local authorities were now required to find additional funding for the full cost of street lights and the operational aspect of solid waste activities," he said.

He further noted that a significant amount of the $5.8 billion collected was used to pay for the property tax expense incurred during the year.

Another $3 billion was allocated to solid waste collection and disposal, and $3 billion to the maintenance of street lights across the island.

Despite the changes and challenges in the last financial year, Thomas is reassuring the public that there will be no increase in property taxes this year.

He said that a meeting will be held soon to assess the property tax campaign in 2013/14. Key stakeholders will discuss the way forward to meet the target, which remains at $7.26 billion.

Thomas said that support requirements to aid in property tax collections, such as legislation and additional administrative support, were not implemented during the last fiscal year.

"But I want to commend the field officers and all the Parish Councils who applied themselves to see how they could meet the target set for each local authority for the fiscal year," he said, pointing out that the municipality of Portmore, met and to some extent exceeded its target.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Noel Arscott, is to make a special presentation to the Portmore Municipal Council in recognition to this achievement.

Under Jamaica's agreement with the IMF, property tax reform will be ready for implementation by the start of the 2015/16 fiscal year, and will include amendments to the Property Tax Act, and the Land Valuation Act, to provide for the publication of names, valuation numbers, addresses, and amounts outstanding from property owners.

It will also include amendments to the Land Valuation Act to allow interim adjustments to land values in periods of no more than two years, to take account of changes in economic conditions and/or change in the use of properties.

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