Pay up and get the benefits - Arscot
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Local government Minister Noel Arscott has issued a call to property owners in St James to pay their land taxes to help strengthen the local government ministry's capacity to undertake infrastructure development in their communities.
Arcsott, who was speaking at Wednesday's Western Jamaica Economic Forum, which was jointly staged by the St James Parish Council and the Montego Bay Commuity College at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, said Government was behind in projected revenue collection.
"So I want to urge more property owners in St James to boost up your efforts. You have significant resources and I am sure that you can do more than what is being done now. More owners in this parish need to pay up," Arscott said.
Arscott said that while the Government had targeted J$7.26 billion in revenue from tax collection for the 2014/2015 fiscal year, earnings to date stood at just under J$5 billion.
"While no one enjoys paying taxes, the need for properly applied taxation (property tax) is very urgent as it is one of the critical sources of revenue for local government," said Arscott. "We have set a target this fiscal year of JS7.26 billion and, so far, we have collected just under J$5 billion ... to meet our target, we must collect an additional J$1.5 billion in the next three months."
The local government minister said his ministry had begun an incentive programme to award communities that pay taxes, citing that one community in Hanover would be the next beneficiary of the incentive programme.
"One of the things I am trying to encourage is that once we have a community that has paid its property taxes, we try to create an incentive, by doing some of the infrastructure, including roads," said Arscott. "I am glad the mayor for Lucea (Wynter McIntosh) is here because we are doing one of his schemes (the phase-one project in the Haughton Grove community) because they pay their property taxes."
Arscott said his ministry would be dealing with a number of communities across Jamaica, whose residents, like those of Haughton Grove, have paid their property taxes.
"Portmore was the number-one municipality in terms of property taxes last year. I have tried to skew the allocation on the basis of property-tax compliance; in that way we, create the incentive," said Arscott.