Vasant Bharath

Both Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC’s Vasant Bharath have told Government now is not the time for property tax.

“People are suffering enough, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout. Now is not the time to add to the burden of the citizenry. “Persad-Bissessar stated via a release.

Bharath also issued a statement. He said: “Now is NOT the time to subject already burdened citizens with additional expenditure and anxiety.”

On Thursday Minister of Finance Colm Imbert said it was no secret that Government planned to implement the tax and the TT Revenue Authority as these plans were both stated in its election manifesto.

But yesterday Persad-Bissessar who had waged a successful 2010 election campaign on ”axing the tax” while leading the People’s Partnership administration urged Government to rethink its position on the tax at this time. She reiterated the UNC’s view that increased taxes will only serve to inhibit growth.

“As former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: ‘Trying to tax a nation into prosperity is like standing inside a bucket and trying to lift it over your head.’ It will never work.

“We urge the Government to have a heart and hold on the implementation of the dreaded property tax in the upcoming 2021 budget…spare the people additional hardship of property taxes. Families are now worried about their future if they are forced to scrape together funds to pay property taxes.

“I’m calling on the Government to listen to the people–those who are left wondering where their next meal is coming from; listen to the single mothers, the hard-working fathers, the young homeowners, and hear that they cannot afford yet another tax.”

“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.”

She said she was willing to share the UNC’s ideas and proposals with the Government on new revenue-generating projects.

Meanwhile, Bharath who was also part of the PP Government, said: “It seems contradictory, even harsh and counterproductive that in these difficult economic times, when governments across the globe, including the GORTT, are providing income support for individuals, grants to small businesses, encouraging landlords to waive rents that the Govt would contemplate the reintroduction of Property Tax.’

“Many have lost their jobs or are working reduced hours with reduced pay and struggling to keep afloat daily.

“Additionally, if the tax is imposed, will current depressed valuations be used or will the Govt insist on using valuations conducted over the last two years when the market was more buoyant?”

He urged the Government to rethink the timing.