The Gov't must do its part before pressing for paymentTuesday, September 14, 2021
A few years ago I indicated to the Government that it is almost impossible, perhaps improbable, to collect property tax if they continued along their prescribed path.
I also suggested that, if the purpose was to raise funds then it would be much better to simply increase the already established property tax figure by a percentage consistent with the increase of prices in the economy. After years of continuing with their exercise the result is, as I expected, not much progress.
There seems to be much uncertainty about the new initiative. The public notice sent out under Section 29 of the Valuation of Land Act requiring all landowners to furnish a return with the particulars of their property by November 30, 2021 has many confused.
This, it has been proffered, has nothing to do with property tax. Nonetheless, the exercise seems to cause unease among property owners. If there is one area that shows up the inefficiency, ineptitude and lack of vision among governments, past and present, it is the area of land management. After years of attempting to manage ourselves we are now in a position where most of our agricultural lands are abandoned and squatters occupy almost every piece of premium State land – from the old train tracks to lands set aside for municipal use.
There are some worrying issues with the new valuation initiative. Among the many are:
• the possibility of individuals giving false information
• the possibility that the literate may claim lands that are not theirs while the illiterate landowner remains vulnerable to the manipulation of the greedy.
What is the status of squatters in this exercise?
The absence of proper documentation, lost through various means including theft, fire, misplacement and damage, may cause many to not register their property.
The fear that, by registering their property they would then be faced with an unbearable property tax, may cause property handed down through generations without proper documentation to remain unregistered.
The solution to our land issues are simple. The Government ought to employ every possible land surveyor to map out every parcel of land in Trinidad and Tobago. This exercise may take a few years to complete, but in the end every parcel ought to be categorised into properties with legitimate titles, titles not confirmed, titles under investigation, State lands, squatter property, and abandoned property.
That must be the starting point for land management.
Using the might of the State to force citizens to complete valuation returns is an exercise that shows the lack of vision of a Government that seems to be growing in its failure to efficiently manage the affairs of the country.
Trinidad and Tobago
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login