Dr Moonilal: Property tax 'cruel and unusual punishment'
Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal says implementing property tax upon citizens during these trying financial times is a 'cruel and unusual punishment', adding that this could lead to higher rent costs.
In a statement issued Friday, Dr Moonilal said the recent closure of Caroni Green Ltd is another measure which is driving up unemployment rates and food prices.
He said the incoming property tax could also lead to further price increases from businessmen who may opt to pass on the charges to consumers.
"It has been brought to my attention by several Caroni Green workers, who not only lost their jobs this week when Dr Rowley's PNM high-handed government shut down their company, but like the rest of country, they are now faced with the reality of paying increased prices for food items."
"On a single day, the government shut down Caroni Green Ltd., saw the foreign exchange crisis lead to higher costs for food and moved to impose the punitive Property Tax."
"After removing the baby grant, slashing the food card, raising the gas prices three times in the last 20 months, and waging a war on the state enterprise workers, the Rowley government now hits the population with his version of the property tax, which, when examined carefully, comes across as cruel and unusual punishment."
He said the International Monetary Fund also revealed that the national economy declined by double the prior projection of Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
"This is tantamount to a criminal act of negligence. The property tax is burden to the poor, the underprivileged, the unemployed and domestic workers and single workers in particular, it must be repealed and reformed immediately."
"No former Prime Minister in the history of Trinidad and Tobago would do this to his or her own people. This is not a UNC or PNM issue, this level of incompetence has now risen above party lines."
"This is Dr Keith Rowley's incompetence and lack of care and compassion for this country."
He added that in just over 18 months of the Rowley administration, the unemployment rate 'reached double digits, and many more jobs are expected to be lost in both the private and public sectors'.
"The dismantling of the State enterprise sector and non-renewal of contract positions at Government ministries and statutory bodies are throwing workers on the breadline each month. The steep jobless figure, the highest in almost a decade, comes in the midst of increased Value Added Tax, the imposition of online purchase tax, higher fuel costs and steeper charges for doing business," he said.
He said higher food prices are 'the direct result of the Government’s absence of management of the foreign exchange situation, despite repeated assurances by the Finance Minister'.
He slammed the 'harsh and oppressive economic measures' being introduced, adding that the worsening destitution and poverty could also facilitate more crime.
"After a year and a half of governance, the PNM government has managed only to wreak adversity on the population and is yet to introduce a single measure to stir economic activity," he said.
Government issued a statement on Wednesday advising citizens to file their property valuation forms by May 22, 2017. The valuations would be used to determine the amount of property tax each homeowner must pay.