Three Chambers of Commerce, are calling on the government to defer the implementation of theProperty Tax until next year.
The Chambers say while they have no problem with the tax, the government must be mindful that many are already barely surviving due to rising costs.
The following is a joint statement by the Chaguanas, Penal and Couva/Point Lisas Chambers:
"The Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC), in a joint meeting with the Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce and the Penal/ Debe Chamber of Commerce understands the Government’s need for increased revenue because of the decline in oil and gas prices.
However, we wish to express our concern regarding the hasty implementation of the land and building tax regime and strongly believe that the requirements stipulated on the form connoted be fulfilled before May 22nd 2017 deadline.
The Chambers are apprehensive given the uncertainty regarding the stipulated rates and believe that the Government should host a series of consultations to educate the population on the tax implementation process and the assessment of land and property.
Whilst the Chambers have no objection to the implementation of the Property Tax, Government must acknowledge that Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) are barely surviving owing to the rising cost of doing business, and the imposition of other taxes such as business levy, green fund levy, NIS, gas increase, unavailability of foreign exchange and vat on food items.
The Chambers would prefer if the Government would defer the implementation of the Property Tax until next year, when more information can be provided to the public and some relief given to the general population as a result of the other tax impositions over the past months and the increased unemployment rate in our Country.
Whilst we do not object to the Property Tax, we firmly believe that such a drastic increase would cause unease amongst the population who are already struggling given the downturn in the economy and would suggest that Government should apply an incremental increase over the next three years, which can be afforded by citizens.
We believe that the tax on plant and machinery is a disincentive to encourage the expansion of production within the manufacturing sector, given the Government’s need to foster local productivity, reduce the importation of foreign goods and seek export markets as a means of earning foreign exchange, since our thrust is to spur local manufacturing and work with the Government to facilitate the same.
The Chambers would like to see some transparency regarding the allocation of the funds derived from the property tax and how it is to be used for development."