Howai says Rowley wrong on Property Tax

Finance Minister Larry Howai has responded to claims by Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley that the Property Tax is set to take effect in 2016, initiated by the People’s Partnership.

In a release to the media the Finance Minister said “It must be said clearly – the people of Trinidad & Tobago can completely dismiss this claim as utterly false. No property tax has been implemented or is being planned for next year by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration.”

“I can state categorically that Cabinet has not considered this matter nor has the matter been brought to Cabinet for consideration at any time in the last two years. Any such claim is completely without basis and must be considered a total fabrication intended to create fear and anxiety.”

At the launch of the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) 2015 Manifesto, when asked whether or not the PNM intends to bring back the property tax, Dr Rowley said it was already taken care of by the People’s Partnership and will quietly take effect from 2016.

Today, however, Howai said that the Government met in January this year with Energy Sector and large stakeholders to consult on how the Government could reform the tax system.

“During those discussions,” Howai said, “preliminary consultations were held on a possible Industrial Land Tax for the very large companies, primarily in the energy sector.”

“I would emphasize that I have consulted with the business community on the sequencing of an Industrial Land Tax, and subsequently land and building taxes on residential and commercial properties. The feedback which I have received are (i) That we should consider carefully the tax burden on individuals and businesses and the effect that it can have on new investment, and (ii) That the process of implementation will be long and drawn out and will not provide immediate cash flow benefit to the Treasury. As a consequence the matter has not gone forward.”

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