LETTER OF THE DAY - Whistling in the dark over property taxes
The Editor, Sir:
The Government, it its latest utterance, is talking tough on property taxes. This is an area where successive governments, as is the custom in Jamaica, have failed to understand that making very small annual increases would be much more acceptable and affordable instead of waiting for many years then suddenly doubling the demand.
Where I live I don't have street light, I don't get garbage collected, there has been no water for three months and if I call the police the reply is that there is neither vehicle nor fuel. It took 11 years to obtain a title for the land and when it arrived the dimensions and boundaries were all wrong but I have to think myself lucky I have a title of sorts.
There are thousands of Jamaicans living on land handed down from generation to generation - the so-called 'Common Law Title' disappeared during a hurricane or fire years ago. I am not talking about squatters here!
There are also people like widows living in prime locations or even large houses but who can barely feed themselves. Large houses do not necessarily mean large income. Is Mr Golding going to sell their houses and put them on the street? Many got behind when property taxes went up by more than 500 per cent in 1999/2000 and they have never been able to catch up. Ability to pay must be considered in any reassessment. This Government should know all about that!
It is my understanding that the Government has no record of vast amounts of property especially in the rural areas, so when Pearnel Charles talks about selling people's property (on TVJ's All Angles programme) he is whistling in the dark.
When it comes to agricultural lands without road or water, which cannot be cultivated because of the added problem of thieves, where is the funds going to come from to pay increased taxes, and why?
I know that in true, corrupt, Jamaican style there will be a temptation to sell off poor people's property to friends or loyal party members, but I do hope the safety of the buyer is taken into account.
I am, etc.,