Parish councils say tax revenues $10-b short

Parish councils say tax revenues $10-b short

Friday, May 01, 2015

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Some $10 billion in property taxes per year is needed to sufficiently address the needs of parish councils across the Island.
Manager of Revenue Enhancement and Resource Mobilisation in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Calvert Thomas, made the disclosure at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, Friday
Thomas said although the collections exceeded the target set last year, it is still far from the amount needed to provide the necessary services to the citizens of Jamaica.
"We collected almost $7.45 billion in property taxes last year…our actual need per annum is in the range of $10 billion, and given inflation, it might reach about $11 or $12 billion," he pointed out.
Thomas said that local authorities continue to face challenges with meeting the needs of the citizens, due to the level of compliance for property taxes.
"Unlike most of the First World countries, which basically have a compliance rate of almost 100 per cent, we are still struggling at the low to mid 50 per cent range," he informed.
Thomas said that currently, the most popular and recognisable services on which most of the collected money is spent are property related services, such as rehabilitation of parochial roads, street lights and the collection and disposal of solid waste.
"The support for solid waste translates to about $2.2 billion per annum, and street lights, $3 billion," Thomas said.
He also noted that the tax collected is used for assisting community development projects, and pay for administrative support to the local authorities.
"Property tax is the main source of funding for the councils; it translates to in excess of 55 per cent of their annual revenues, and if the revenues are not coming in, the services can’t be provided," he emphasised.
He noted that low collection prior to the 2014/15 fiscal year is one of the main reasons for the outstanding money owed by the Parish Councils to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), which the authorities have started to make payments to cover.
Thomas said the authorities will continue to appeal to citizens to honour their property tax obligations, so they can benefit from the full services provided through the parish councils.

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