Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Treason! - Local government minister denounces councillors who say not to pay property taxes

Published:Friday | April 28, 2017 | 4:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie

WESTERN BUREAU:

Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie said he was alarmed by reports that some councillors in municipal corporations across the island are encouraging residents not to pay property taxes.

Speaking at a special sitting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation yesterday, McKenzie said that if the reports were true, such an act would be traitorous.

"There is some disturbing information coming to me about how some elected councillors are advising members in their divisions not to pay property taxes," said McKenzie. "This is something that I do not want to believe, and it would be rather unfortunate if any elected representative encouraged their constituents not to pay their property taxes. It would be irresponsible and I would consider that an act of treason if any local elected representative, for any cheap political reason, would encourage people not to pay their property taxes."

McKenzie reminded the councillors that it was the property tax that allowed the municipal corporations to carry out their functions at the local government level, including the provision of several critical services.

"Property taxes are what will drive the municipal corporations, because if you do not pay the taxes, the councillors cannot get paid, we will not be able to collect the garbage, we will not be able to reduce the $5.1 billion that is owed to the Jamaica Public Service Company, and we will not be able to provide social programmes," said McKenzie.

"It is the responsibility of the councillors, when you speak to your divisions and when you go to your citizens' association meetings and your town hall meetings, to stress the importance of property tax."

The Government is aiming to collect over J$9 billion in outstanding property taxes. However, it is estimated that approximately 43 per cent of property owners do not pay their taxes.