Wed | Nov 22, 2017

11 new garbage trucks purchased with property tax funds - Holness

Published:Wednesday | October 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right) inspects the new compactor garbage trucks with (from left) Linley Reynolds, deputy chairman, National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA); Audley Gordon, executive director of the NSWMA; Desmond McKenzie, minister of local government and community development; and Dennis Chung, chairman of the NSWMA, at the handover ceremony at Jamaica House in Kingston, yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that money used in the purchase of 11 new compactor garbage trucks, valued at more than $214 million, was funded directly from revenues generated from property tax payments into the Government coffers.

He said the public needs to understand the value of paying taxes, raising once again the ticklish issue of the increase in property tax, which was passed as part of the Budget package in April.

"This is not a loan. We didn't borrow this money. It was not a grant and it wasn't given to us. This money is coming from the taxes, from the property taxes you have paid," Holness said at the handover ceremony at Jamaica House yesterday.

The 11 new International McNeilus compactor garbage trucks are valued at US$1.658,597, or J$214,788,312, bringing the total number of new compactors received since the start of the financial year to 28, at a combined value of J$561,841,511.

Regional entities, Southern Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited, Western Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited, and the Metropolitan Parks and Markets will each receive three units, while the North East Parks and Markets will receive the other two units.

 

TAXATION MUST BE FAIR

 

Holness said that he has followed the public conversation about the increase in property tax rates during and after that decision was taken, adding that while it was the worst part of his job, it was important in bringing Jamaica's economic and social structure up to par through firm and dedicated leadership.

"We agree that taxation must be fair. It must be efficient, but we must also collect it because even if it is fair and efficient, if it's not collected, you can't do anything with it," said Holness.

He said his argument was not that there needs to be high property taxes in order to have proper collection of garbage. Rather, he said that "everyone needs to pay their property taxes so that the burden is spread fairly and efficiently over the population so that there is more resource available to the country, to the agency to collect."

National Solid Waste Management Authority Executive Director Audley Gordon challenged his workers to maintain assigned collection schedules and work towards improving operations efficiency at the authority.

"The NSWMA, as regulators of the solid waste industry in Jamaica, takes that job seriously now more than ever. I am delighted with the acquisition of these 11 new units. But, ideally, we would require 100 more to efficiently service the industry," Gordon said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com