The Leader of the Congress of the People, Prakash Ramadhar, is seeking to meet with Finance Minister Colm Imbert to get clarification regarding Property Tax.
The COP Leader's office issued the following statement to the media today:
"The Congress of the People has written to Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, requesting a meeting between a team from the party and the Honourable Minister for the purpose of clarifying several issues regarding the Property Tax which is being implemented.
The COP aims to have issues clarified so that the population can have certainty about this tax which they are being asked to pay for the first time. Some of the issues include:
Valuation – On what basis? How is to be determined?
Rental Value – What is the relation between the value of a residential property and the rental value?
Classification of Properties – particularly in relation to residential and commercial properties in the context of home businesses – What are the criteria to be used?
Protection for Persons on Fixed Incomes and the Indigent – Are mechanisms other than simple deferral possible? How and in what circumstances can they be applied?
Use of Property Tax for provision of services to burgesses of the Regional Corporations – Allocation of Property Tax collected to the Local Government bodies – What mechanism can be used to achieve this?
The COP seeks this meeting because of there are many unsettled matters related to the Property Tax that need clarity and also to present its own proposals on how this tax should be used to provide basic services to citizens through the Local Government Corporations.
The COP takes note of the apparent misunderstanding of what it said in relation to the question of what valuations are to be applied in determining the amount of the Property Tax to be paid.
“In addressing the issues on Sunday, I never said which basis of valuation – Rental Value or Capital Value – will be used. In the absence of a definitive statement from Government on that matter, we simply indicated by way of example what the Tax may be if either basis were to be used.
“The fact that there was not yet a settled position from Government is reflected in the fact that another senior Minister, at Parliament on Monday told the media, that "the assessments have not been done".
“The indecisiveness of Government is also reflected in the fact that in his address to the nation on December 29, the Prime Minister mistakenly referred to the Property Tax this way: ‘On the revenue side, Land and Building taxes will be restored from January 2016….’.
“Further, according to a Ministry of Finance December 30, 2015 release, the amendments were to be tabled in Parliament this month. It said, “It should be noted that although the Finance Bill and the amendments to the Property Tax Act will be introduced in Parliament in January 2016…”. However, on Monday, the very Minister of Finance told Parliament that those amendments will now be laid in March 2016.”
“So there is uncertainty on the part of Government, the issues of valuations and assessments being most important matters that must be settled. I hope the Minister meets with us soon.”
“There is no fear mongering on the part of the COP. Putting what are possibilities out there got the Minister of Finance to make a statement in Parliament. What is needed is clarity on all the issues so that our citizens already perplexed with the VAT measures can be sure how their expenditure on their property will fully impact their shrinking spending power.”