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Fixin T&T: Anti-corruption legislation before property tax; protect treasury first and foremost!

Effective implementation of meaningful legislation to govern procurement, campaign financing, party financing and whistle blowing must be made the top priority of the Dr Keith Rowley-led PNM Government.

Systems must be put in place to properly protect our patrimony and minimise opportunities for the pilferage of our money before we the people are asked to pay more taxes.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures to supporters at Balisier House after the election results on September 7. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures to supporters at Balisier House after the election results on September 7.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The period 2010-2015 under Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC-dominated People’s Partnership administration—from Reshmi to LifeSport—was, at best, traumatic.

While it seems that there is no longer a new scandal a day, nothing in the past 19 months under Dr Rowley’s stewardship inspires confidence; and his handling of matters concerning senior PNM MPs Marlene McDonald, Camille Robinson-Regis and Faris Al-Rawi—along with the apparent reversal of his position on the Chaguaramas debacle—offers no suggestion of a different trajectory.

No government must ever again be simply trusted to responsibly manage our resources. Effective implementation of meaningful legislation to govern procurement, campaign financing, party financing and whistle blowing is job one!

About Fixin TT

Fixin TT
Fixin T&T's mission is the realization of good governance to achieve healthy, holistic, and fulfilling lifestyles for all citizens through the study, promotion, and furtherance of strong democratic institutions; sound infrastructure; integrity in public and corporate affairs; and a culture of respect by all for the laws and regulations of the country to create a safe, secure, efficient and productive Trinidad & Tobago.

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47 comments

  1. Is it that legislations has proven to be ineffective , or those in authority refusal to implement said legislation, particularly since we are overrun with corrupt lawyers who block cases. Corruption is endemic in T&T ,and so is networking. Not only for jobs, but also corrupt people eat and drink together and have those ‘eat ah food” lawyers to ensure their cases are stalled and they not go to jail. Fixin T&T is a bunch of jokers and they are selective in what and whom they pursue. I like many others thought they were a serious civil society group but their actions led by 1 consistent joker have foiled that thought. Property tax talks is simply that ole talk by the Oppositon and ‘parasiitc oligarchy’ who owns large homes, apartments and buildings. The poor and middle class okay with it, This is not something new, our parents all paid property tax. Those since 2010 who built huge buildings complaining. Its simply POLITICKING. Imagine there is set of apartments in South with rental fee is US 3,000 (owns by a well known contractor and south business man)

  2. Fixin T&T needs to do a bit more research and less of whatever this is. Having more legislation does not make corruption less prevalent. Ask Uganda – they have more legislation than developed countries in some cases and is no less corrupt. T&T also has significant bits and pieces of anti-corruption legislation that have all proven ineffective because the powerful among us do not want them to work. So this either / or business wrt property tax is really a non-starter.

    • I agree that legislation doesn’t make you less corrupt. But doesn’t it at least give you a starting point?
      Suppose the strategy is: Step one. Agitate for anti-corruption. Step two. Pressure law enforcement to utilise anti-corruption legislation…

    • It’s the wrong starting point if you don’t understand fully what are the underlying causes and problems. It’s like reaching into the dark.

    • Is it the easiest starting point? Or maybe I should ask whether it makes things worse…
      What do you see as the right starting point, Keston? Education about the harms of corruption?

    • Prosecution is the easiest starting point.
      You learn what gaps and obstacles are in the law to refine, integrate and close or remove.
      You prosecute by the finagling and strategy chess game that lawyering is/ just a matter of who what and how lawyers choose to use that skill
      You show zero tolerance and a will to heel.

      Further to that, all the more effective and fair ways to implement this tax.

      Multiple home owners first.
      High end million dollar homes second
      Rental property third.
      Commercial property
      Business owners
      Conglomerates
      Banks
      Unions
      Credit unions

      ——First Tier Implementation——-

      These first

      And that is your first tiet

    • It’s like sending out a net and hoping you catch something worthwhile. Solutions should be geared towards treating specific problems. “Corruption” is broad. There are different types of corruption that have different effects; some more insidious than others, some that can be tackled with particular interventions and others with other types of measures. It’s certainly more complex than saying we need catch-all legislation that’s going to get everything when we need to know what are the most serious ones and the low-hanging fruit we might be able to handle. All of this needs to start with an informed and well-researched perspective.

  3. ‘DIEGO Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley believes that people from all walks of life are angry at the Government’s property tax which they blame on squandermania. Rowley was speaking on Friday in the Lower House on two bills to bring the new tax, the Property Tax Bill 2009 and the Valuation of Land (Amendment) Bill 2009.

    He said, “In my constituency there is anger, anxiety and resentment, at both ends of the spectrum.”

    Saying the property tax is obviously a revenue-raising measure, he said people are saying if the Government had better handled its largesse, there would have been no need for this tax.

    “Stop taking your own advice that nobody is annoyed…,” he advised the Government. He said they have brought the tax at the worst possible time, alluding to tough economic times. He repeatedly said that people were not against the idea of paying taxes but were upset that this measure could have been averted if the Government had acted differently previously, in its expenditure.

    Rowley lamented that the Government in this bill had not taken the opportunity to begin a paradigm shift in how local government is treated. He lamented that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) model – which holds local officials to a greater accountability to citizens – has not been adopted for local councils in Trinidad.

    Saying the lifeblood of performance is money, Rowley said without such reform in Trinidad, the introduction of property tax would likely not bring improvements to local communities. Adding that the Government has not come clean over the property tax, he said the country would only have to wait until people’s bills are paid in September to find out if it is in fact a serious revenue earner.

    “I suspect the three percent will be on values considerably higher than being made out to be. You’ll get good values for most properties,” he said, forewarning of high tax bills.

    Scoffing at claims that some people might pay less tax than they now pay, Rowley quipped, “Don’t bother to tax me; Pass on the benefit.”

    Rowley made the point that the property tax is being imposed for something that is not a revenue-earner for him, that is, his home. He said that through no act of their own, persons living on Diego Martin Main Road might have found the value of their house climb over the years to $1 million or $2 million, and now be liable to the property tax, despite never having any intention to sell it or rent it out.

    “If you try to defend the indefensible, you’ll create resentment and provoke people, and that is what we have at the moment.”

    Rowley said in areas of his constituency, such as Upper Cemetery Street, there are residents who must pay water rates despite the fact that no water flows in the water-pipes laid down four years ago. He said any hike in such water rates under the property tax would now amount to provocation.

    Rejecting claims that the property tax won’t cause hardship, he said, “I know a lot of people for whom $100 is a lot of money. A lot are struggling to make ends meet.”

    By SEAN DOUGLAS Sunday, December 20 2009

  4. For those who really not up-to-date with what’s happening, this person is a Valuation Surveyor, and a member of the Institute of Chartered Surveyors (ICS), let’s educate ourselves. He’s been on CNMG, 106.5…but it seems none of the other media outlets are interested in educating the public. I can’t seem to upload his live video, but feel free th check his page Sunil Lalloo

  5. Foolishness. We were always paying taxes on our properties. What does one have to do with the other?

  6. Across the globe people pay property tax. Poor people have always paid property tax, It’s the millionaires with businesses , houses and apartments who complaining. So what is the problem,. The free for all syndrome has to stop. How many of them paying taxi in the uS, UK and Europe? They don’t complain to pay Uncle Sam,and others This is their home, and you all who taking up their fever are the ones complaining about the cost of Education, Health, Infrastructure etc. Fixin T&T seems to sporadically select particular issues to address. No one take you on.So much wrong doing between 2010 -2015 and you selective on what issues to highlight, You not serious. what procurement , Milions was spent on UFF commission and still milions stole during PP. Comedy Central on in T&T

    • I will ignore all you points as they are valid to you. YOu really have no idea that we DON’T get what we pay for here, is that so difficult? When you go on vacation and enjoy the scenery, lovely flowerbeds, clean roads, good public transport system, who do you think pays for all of that? we pay road tax, what do we get? Potholes, the size of meteors, and that is only one example…

    • Nothing must change the secret slogan if many Trinis

    • What’s your point Americans pay tax for everything, Do they quarrel, We want everything free in this country, Give unto Caesars what is Caesars. Let the millionaires pay their dues. The middle class and the poor have no complaints It Its’ UNC Ministers who complaining ,did they care about the people of this country when they were raping the country., spending millions on Carnival tickets for friends, paying out largess to lawyers and contractors etc., No one ask them to borrow money to pay taxes, We know its our civic duty to pay property tax. It is my legacy to my grandchild, to leave here better than when I came. Look over at Venezuela, this did not happen overnight.

    • DIEGO Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley believes that people from all walks of life are angry at the Government’s property tax which they blame on squandermania. Rowley was speaking on Friday in the Lower House on two bills to bring the new tax, the Property Tax Bill 2009 and the Valuation of Land (Amendment) Bill 2009.

      He said, “In my constituency there is anger, anxiety and resentment, at both ends of the spectrum.”

      Saying the property tax is obviously a revenue-raising measure, he said people are saying if the Government had better handled its largesse, there would have been no need for this tax.

      “Stop taking your own advice that nobody is annoyed…,” he advised the Government. He said they have brought the tax at the worst possible time, alluding to tough economic times. He repeatedly said that people were not against the idea of paying taxes but were upset that this measure could have been averted if the Government had acted differently previously, in its expenditure.

      Rowley lamented that the Government in this bill had not taken the opportunity to begin a paradigm shift in how local government is treated. He lamented that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) model – which holds local officials to a greater accountability to citizens – has not been adopted for local councils in Trinidad.

      Saying the lifeblood of performance is money, Rowley said without such reform in Trinidad, the introduction of property tax would likely not bring improvements to local communities. Adding that the Government has not come clean over the property tax, he said the country would only have to wait until people’s bills are paid in September to find out if it is in fact a serious revenue earner.

      “I suspect the three percent will be on values considerably higher than being made out to be. You’ll get good values for most properties,” he said, forewarning of high tax bills.

      Scoffing at claims that some people might pay less tax than they now pay, Rowley quipped, “Don’t bother to tax me; Pass on the benefit.”

      Rowley made the point that the property tax is being imposed for something that is not a revenue-earner for him, that is, his home. He said that through no act of their own, persons living on Diego Martin Main Road might have found the value of their house climb over the years to $1 million or $2 million, and now be liable to the property tax, despite never having any intention to sell it or rent it out.

      “If you try to defend the indefensible, you’ll create resentment and provoke people, and that is what we have at the moment.”

      Rowley said in areas of his constituency, such as Upper Cemetery Street, there are residents who must pay water rates despite the fact that no water flows in the water-pipes laid down four years ago. He said any hike in such water rates under the property tax would now amount to provocation.

      Rejecting claims that the property tax won’t cause hardship, he said, “I know a lot of people for whom $100 is a lot of money. A lot are struggling to make ends meet.”

      By SEAN DOUGLAS Sunday, December 20 2009

    • Agreed. It is now apparent to the citizens of this country, that corruption is a problem that needs to be addressed before they resume paying taxes they used to pay before 2010. The questions then remain; why wasn’t this issue raised during the suspension of property taxes from 2010 to 2015 and who stands to benefit most from not paying their taxes based on the new application? To the band-wagonists out there, please understand that this has little or nothing to do with corruption. Property taxes may not be a application perfect but they do pay for many things that we take for granted. For a country that has lived on subsidized everything, the least we can do, is pay our taxes.

    • Visel George also, since the moratorium ended in 2015, at least from financial year 2016 we should have continued collecting under the L&B taxes, and taken the time to properly implement the amended tax system.
      As it is, given the deadline, concerns etc, it seems a bit rushed.
      Moreover, imo, no discussion of services provided is complete without addressing the issue of tax collection of ‘self employed’ persons, who enjoy the benefits of tax paying citizens without contributing to it.

  7. Nobody ent cussing the gov’t yet, Lasana? Where’re are all the people who had nothing good to say between 2010-15 only?

  8. Kickbacks are hard to prove when cash is being used . Try getting a contractor to turn on a person that they paid . We have a real uphill battle and in this mordern time I am sure that people have recordings and videos but getting it is the issue .

  9. Hmmm, that sounds kinda lopsided to me…here in Atlanta/Fulton County, they assess property tax on a portion of the house value, so a $200,000 property would pay roughly $3,000. Plus there are reduced rates for seniors, people with disabilities, etc. The funds go to the city and county and are directly applied to local infrastructure, education, services, etc.

    • That is the problem here , Tanya, no structure, no prep, no directive. And wholly unfair to the bottom of the pyramid after a raid on the treasury by the top, by the politicos, to the time of minimum 8 billion, from the last seven years alone, and no prosecutions. But you coming to demand home tax from the 98%.
      As if any service, will be improved because of it.

    • Tanya Carr, if you are familiar with the infrastructure (or lack thereof) of rural areas:
      Rural areas, because of location, income of families, etc, most likely would receive lower taxes
      If we follow the logic of what is collected is used in that area, we continue to perpetuate (under) development of rural areas.
      Hence, contradicting the promise (imo) by the PM for LG reform.
      Because, by that logic, we continue to maintain the status quo, that is, the disparity in development, access to services-basic services including reliable and efficient transport, water, etc. Essentially treating residents of rural areas like second class citizens.

    • Didn’t they unequivocally state that the funds received are NOT going into the municipalities? The funds are going into the rest of the pool from which government dips indiscriminately, not our municipalities. I fail to see how these funds will be used appropriately especially given the history of our corruption. So any residents of any area cannot possibly expect to gain anything for their community out of funds meant to improve them. Not a single pavement, no fire hydrant, no smooth roads or any other necessary amenities or services are assured. It’s a joke at which none of us can even dare to laugh.

      Please enlighten me or let me know what I missed.

  10. Earl Best

    “…minimise opportunities for the pilferage of our money…”

    Pilferage? Yuh joking, right? I’m not condoning it but I feel I can live with pilferage.

    When a crooked bank clerk decides to take ten cents from ever account he can access, that is pilferage.

    But when the Cabinet decides to write off $2b in an investment that went bad and not hold the person(s) responsible accountable, that, brother, is NOT pilferage.

    When my government paying $1m for a building that is not in use, that my brother, is NOT pilferage.

    When my government KNOWINGLY agrees to spend millions of dollars to dredge the harbour every year so that their conrtractor of choice can get to service the sea bridge, that my brother, is NOT pilferage.

    And when my government votes $10b per year to the Ministry of National Security and 400+ people per year still losing their lives to crime, that my brother, is NOT pilferage.

    And that is the kind ah shit that Rowley and co overseeing.

  11. “This year Mayor de Blasio will pay $3,581 in property taxes on each of two row houses he owns in ultra-gentrified Park Slope. The city says his properties are worth about $1.6 million apiece.

    Some 14 miles away, in middle-class Laurelton, Queens, Arthur Russell, 66, who retired from computer sales, will pay a property tax bill that, at $4,569, is about 28% higher than the mayor’s — even though the city says his single-family home is worth 75% less than de Blasio’s properties, at $396,000.”

    “Homeowners in Washington Heights, where the demographic is 83% non-white, are assessed at 141% of comparative sales prices. Homeowners in highly gentrified Williamsburg/Greenpoint (which is 63% white) are assessed at only 74% of comparative sales…”

    “The inequities for homeowners, he said, are created by rules that cap increases to assessments at 6% per year and no more than 20% within five years.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-property-taxes-favor-rich-white-homeowners-suit-claims-article-1.3089889

  12. The property tax will include businesses….many of which have been smartly minimising their tax liability across the board for years….hmm, wonder what Movie Towne pays right now in Land and Building Taxes?

    • For land they Tief? Occupy?
      That the whole country supports!

    • Keep in mind the ‘creative’ accounting. I fail to understand how it is acceptable to write off losses until down the road (petrotrin), unless it is for infrastructure (in which case it would be over a number of years) thereby giving an unrealistic picture of the situation. No wonder our decision making is flawed!

    • Not to mention magically turning a profit into a loss at the stroke of a pen.

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head Ms Carr. Maybe there is a need to enquire of Fixin TNT, whose agenda they’re pushing. The rationale for the new tax regime was to bring those errant businesses within line for a correct assessment and payment of taxes. Could you imagine a residence storing and utilizing commercial equipment, paying the same rate as a regular residential property. Wake up people!

  13. They failed to mention the conveniently stalled Procurement legislation ….

  14. Deep sigh

    This has been my very deep grouse.
    You watch a treasury , state companies, lands, and all manner of corruption get bilked, milked and raided to the tune of at leat 8 billion, minimum. A whole economy national wealth transfer to one group of people

    You want to do nothing
    AND charge poor people taxes??

    Why they don’t institute a conglomerate, financier, bank revenue and wealth tax.???

  15. Is more legislation needed? How about enforcing and uograding what exists….

  16. 100% agree with the Caption! Tax may be necessary but not when corruption & wastage goes unchecked and wrongdoers unscathed!