Commissioner of lands defends valuation process
Commissioner of Land Valuation Eric Allen yesterday defended the work of his agency in assigning property values to the estimated 835,000 lots across the country.
Finance and Public Service Minister Audley Shaw, who announced the changes in property values recently, has subsequently advised landowners that they can lodge an objection with the commissioner of land valuations if they believe the valuations are too high.
However, Allen, in a Hotline interview with Radio Jamaica's Emily Crooks, gave the assurance that his department had carried out its job accurately. "In the majority of instances, we are confident that we got the valuations correct," Allen declared, noting that the agency was still open to objections from property owners.
He pointed out that the average increase in properties over the period 2002 to 2013 was in the region of 250 per cent. However, he noted that in some instances, there were significant percentage increases in the value of properties across the country.
The commissioner of land valuation explained that some areas in St Elizabeth have seen significant increases in the value of properties owing to an increasing number of returning residents acquiring lands and settling in those communities. In addition, Allen said lands that were previously used for agricultural purposes are now being converted to resort development and residential use.
At the same time, Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance Faval Williams has conceded that the increase some Jamaicans will have to pay for property taxes has had a shocking effect on them. "The implementation of the tax could have been communicated better," she said.
"We agree that the difference in the tax liability for many persons has come as a shock and we are getting the feedback as well, so we have to stand up and acknowledge that," she said.
On Thursday, Minister of Information Ruel Reid told RJR, in an interview, that the Cabinet would be having another look at the property tax regime.