Gov't reneged on responsibility in land deal
THE EDITOR, Sir:
If the right valuation methods were used in the Chinese land deal to correctly assess the Government's contribution in building the North-South Highway, it might have significantly reduced the costs the Jamaican people have had to pay in taxes or tolls. It makes you wonder whether our Government can truly say it is acting in the best interests of the people whenever it divests public assets.
Now, if the toll rates are indexed to the American dollar, which they are, the land values must also be comparable to similar land prices in the USA, using the land-residual approach to valuation based on the best use of the land. So the land can only be valued appropriately when the Chinese declared their intended use of the land, which should have been done in the negotiations.
I have been calling for a congressional-style Budget Office, as in the case of the US, to evaluate Government's investment decisions and programmes to determine whether taxpayers are getting value for money and to ensure that these policy decisions will have the desired social and economic effects.