Caroni Villagers Condemn Property Tax and Call for its Withdrawal

By Stephen Kangal
September 23, 2009
Trinidad and Tobago News Blog

HouseThe Caroni Assembly of Villagers during their meeting held on Tuesday evening at the Vishnu Boys College in Caroni condemned the proposed high level of property tax as being unprecedented, unduly harsh and oppressive in the taxation annals of T&T. It was held as being “punitive, disruptive, draconian, illegal and onerous in its implications” according to the text of the Resolution that was adopted unanimously at the end of the Public Forum, a copy of which is attached.

All speakers called for the introduction of the property tax to be vigorously opposed, resisted and withdrawn on grounds that it was socio-environmentally insensitive, constituted a crude invasion of the sanctuary and sanctity of the home, violated the tenets of both natural justice and equity and could be declared illegal by judicial review. The perpetrators of the tax that is being foisted on the unsuspecting and barricaded population were regarded as glorified bandits wearing balisier ties.

The villagers indicated that the Minister of Finance has not, hitherto clearly formulated the mechanics and communicated convincingly the procedures for uniform and consistent implementation. She was treating with the daunting complexity of the proposed tax regime in a flippant, simplistic and ad hoc manner that could pave the way for subjectivity and arbitrariness to contaminate the rent-assessment and tax-determination stages. For the residents equality in tax assessment across the board will produce inequity having regard to the wide disparities in the human living conditions between rural and urban communities.

They called for its conditional withdrawal – for the introduction of a more just and equitable regime based on inputs to be derived from bona fides consultations to be undertaken with all the stake-holders organizations and NGO’s. It was felt that to complete the transparent property-assessment process in two months and introduce the tax by January 1, 2010 will be both time-frame and logistically challenged, provocative and was a recipe for fostering and promoting chaos and mayhem to take place in the 20th Anniversary of the 1990 uprising.

They appealed to Independent Senators to withhold their balance of power support for the radically-reforming but regressive fiscal measure. They called for it to be referred for balanced, detailed and judicious consideration by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament before being re-introduced in a scaled down format. It was felt that the tax was intended to make up the $7bn budget deficit by foolishly removing scarce liquidity from the hands of consumers who represented the only effective means of beating the recession by their spending and consumer confidence.

In the pre-ambular part of the Resolution the villagers expressed the view that the domestic operating socio-economic environment and ecology militated against the introduction of this astronomically high tax reform fiscal package owing to “rising unemployment, decreasing incomes, escalating food prices, increasing utility rates, high rentals, runaway crimes etc”.

They were addressed by Mr. Clyde Weatherhead, Inshan Ishmael, Sunil Ramjitsingh, Prakash Ramadhar and Stephen Kangal, co-ordinator of the Assembly in the presence of a large media attendance.

They propose to submit the text of the Resolution adopted as a petition to the President of the Senate, Senator the Honourable Danny Montano as well as to Independent Senators.


Resolution adopted by the Caroni Assembly of Villagers
Calling for the Withdrawal of the Proposed Property Tax

Taking into account the global financial crisis that has plunged hydrocarbon- rich Trinidad and Tobago into a deep recession in the face of a position of previous denial and assumed detached insulation from recession that was dishonestly adopted by the current administration;

Bearing in mind the loss of savings suffered by pensioners and savers from the collapse of the HCU and three CLICO companies, closure of Caroni Ltd and the prevailing low rates of interest paid on savings to nationals and pensioners in particular;

Unsettled by rising unemployment, decreasing incomes, escalating food prices, increasing utility rates, high rentals, runaway crimes and decrease in the receipt of remittances by nationals from abroad as well as the 300,000 properties that were allowed to get away tax-free by statal negligence;

Facing up to the lack of transparency, accountability, huge cost over-runs and the wasteful spending of over $300bn over the last eight years by Central Government including erecting expensive lack of income- generating buildings;

Emphasising the desirability of leaving adequate liquidity in the hands of consumers to enable them to drive consumer spending and confidence to achieve an economic revival from current recessionary times as is done in other countries;

Admitting that the property tax is based on unexpected astronomical increases ranging from 1000% to 2000% calculated to realize revenues estimated to be in excess of $5bn by methods and procedures that clearly infringe the tenets of equity and the principles of natural justice that could constitute compelling legal grounds for seeking judicial review;

This Caroni Assembly of Villagers meeting at Vishnu Boys College on Tuesday 22 September 2009 has agreed as follows:

1. Calls upon Government to withdraw the introduction of the draconian Property Tax pending the holding of meaningful consultations with all the stakeholder communities to determine a nationally agreed and more just and equitable property tax regime;

2. Calls upon the Honourable President of the Senate Senator Danny Montano to kindly have this petition/resolution read out in the Senate as a Civic Society Petition during the proceedings of the debate on the Budget or immediately thereafter;

3. Appeals to Independent Senators to use their crucial controlling vote to prevent the adoption of the Property Tax proposal and to have the proposal expunged from the Budget and be referred for consideration by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.

4. Supports the call by NATUC and OWTU as well as by hundreds of civic society members in the print media including pensioners to have the tax withdrawn owing to its punitive, disruptive, draconian, illegal and onerous implications.

22 September 2009

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16 thoughts on “Caroni Villagers Condemn Property Tax and Call for its Withdrawal”

  1. Mr. Kngal, could you tell us ONE THING that the people of Caroni are for that this government advocates?

  2. Firstly you will not be burdened by this tax because you are enjoying the pleasures of exile in Texas and from there trying to tell us what is good for us in T&T. You love T&T so much that it is not good enough for you to live in. What does this government advocate verbally and does the opposite including the new draft constitution about which the CJ had a lot to say you will be in the best position to outline? This is a government of adhocracy and vaps and even the mechanics of the poverty sorry property tax have not yet worked been worked out in any legible and transparent way. I know that your are telegraphing subliminal ethnic intentions in my writings for some time now but on this issue T&T is ad unum in rejecting it and not exclusively the people of Caroni to whom you seem to ascribe an underlying ethnic agenda as if the people of Caroni are lesser T&T mortals and do not have the right and entitlement to pursue, defend and promote their interests and aspirations. That is their democratic and human right in a plural society. I do not know what this government advocates. You can educate me. Iknow that that this is PNM country and the resources are to be monopolised by party faithfuls by divine dictat. We in Caroni belong to the periphery.This tax is transferring hard-earned resources to the urban centres by not allowing the respective regional corporations to collect and spend in their immediate neighbourhodd as local governments do in your beautiful Houston Texas. This Government is anti-rural just as in the pre-independence era the the British colonial Administration was portrayed as being anti-black T&T. You list what your Government stands for and show us how and when on previous occasions Caroni people did not support it including the distribution of national awards.By the way Jack Warner is a Caroni MP who is against this tax and criticised the composition of the 2009 National Awards so that your ethnic insinuations fall flat. I will not dignify your inquiry with any further amplifications. The defence rests its case in the name of fairness, equality and the pangs of the territorial imperative that possess and drive even the people of Caroni if you can appreciate my drift. Enjoy the 14 oz Texas sirloin steak well done. Do try to frame your inquiry in a more legible manner and pay me the respect of getting my name right please lest I consider it a deliberate insult although it was clearly written. Try to mitigate and soften your open agenda.

  3. We cannot separate the increase in property tax from all the other issues in the country that cost us dearly. I do not support this tax increase for many reasons:

    1) The government has squandered funds on projects like summits and the Brian Lara stadium.

    2) I am not eager to give revenue to a government that is not accountable.

    3) Information that has come out so far from the Uff Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Sector points to massive corruption taking place within Udecott.

    4) This corruption seems to be supported by the government which defends the chairman of Udecott Calder Hart at every turn.

    Government has also contributed to the increase in property prices with the extensive building they undertook that sucked up labour and contributed to an increase in materials. Between the government and some people who I suspect are big money launderers and are heavily investing in property development, they have driven up the cost of property.

    So here you have it. The government contributes to the increase in the cost of living. Instead of saving and spending in a way that ensures locals get the most out of our resources, they spend in haste to the benefit of Chinese contractors and labourers. After mismanaging our resources, their ‘creative’ approach to raising additional revenue is to tax the public some more.

  4. Nonsense Kangal, I did not come here as a fake refugee, but as a consultant. Most of my family own property in TnT, and would be paying those taxes.Personal attacks should be infra-dig for you, but muy expectations may be too high, eh?

  5. Please, Mr. Kangal for you. Re-check your work after you have written to pick up simple spelling/grammatical errors. In T&T a consultant is a glorified term for the “unemployed”. It may have a different connotation in Houston however. Sometimes what we say may be understood better and appreciated deeper by readers if we know from where one is coming or writing.
    Good luck Linda.

  6. Mr. Kangal, I wrote a calypso for allyuh Caroni residents…
    Here it goes.. 121234..
    Stevie,,, light ah diya fuh we, and put it under ‘yuh’ pomerac tree..
    Jus tuh show some respect tuh Gwenee…. who died there in 1823.
    She died from ah broken heart yuh see, cause they took her child from she, and sold him to Masah Burnley. .. somewhere in Lopinot yuh see….
    Gwenne crying….
    Stevie, Gwenne was a hard worker fuh real.. if yuh could of only see she on the thread mill Stevie, yuh wounda believe she was working fuh free…
    So light dat diya fuh she..cause yuh backyard was a cemetery.

    HERU, yuh tink dem lyrics could of get to CD if Amar cornered we music man?

  7. The comments on this thread has descended once again into the murky waters of race baiting and race hating. I thought that this blog was for the purpose of people who share a common Nationality to express ideas and opinions, to comment on the state of our national politics no matter where you may presently reside, for as far as I know as long as you possess a passport which carries the seal of the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago you could be on Mars you will still be a Trini and entitled to comment on any subject that is relevant to the politics of the day or the social environment as pertains to TnT. This article was about a particularly draconion taxation imposed upon the people of our country by a government which has lost it’s way and it’s moral authority to rule. It has shown time and again that the interest of the people of our beloved country is not of paramount importance to them or is it a top priority on their agenda, in most developed countries property taxes are used to better the infrastructure of the community inwhich you live i.e regular police patrols, resurfaced roads proper drainage etc. It is not levied on the population to ease the fiscal deficit created by a callous and uncaring government. Now can we discuss this as adults.

  8. Mr. Lovelace, you right, issues should not “descend into race” etc. All I asked (Mr.)Kangal was the one liner in my first post. Caroni is the place that threatened some time ago, that the PM could not come there, they could not guarantee his safety, they said. You see, as a lover of TnT, I want to know if Caroni secceeded, when it secceeded, and if that was the only segment of the country that was opposed to the taxes.Notice he did not say Vistabella, el Socorro or Cedros, but Caroni, where the PM may well need a second passport to go visit.
    Stephen Kangal, journalist, may not recognize that it is correct journalistic practice to address the person referenced for the first time as Mr or Ms.and in subsequent references, to use the last name only.The New York Times does this, British papers stick to the Mr. throughout. I live, as Kangal pointed out, in the US. It is from this US that I write all my published pieces, except when I am home in the holidays.(I had two pieces published recently in daily papers, about problems people have getting visas to the US. The consul of the US responded to them, in the papers.)
    People from small places may resent comments from belongers of those places living abroad, but that has more to do with the smallness ofome of the minds in those places, as some people expose them on the internet.
    Britain’s strength as a colonial, and thus world power, was, that its citizens remained British no matter where they lived, or how long. Perhaps (Mr.) Kangal believes that a certain amount of constant ketch-are is needed, to be able to speak intelligently on TnT issues. You would notice, Mr. Lovelace, that this is the first time I have eer directed a comment to the gentleman, about something he wrote. I however, constantly comment, both praiseworthy and not, on Raffique’s pieces.Check my record on Raff is an inteligent, thinking Trini. “Nuff said.

  9. Note to Kangal: I would apologize to readers if I accidentally used an incorrect gramatical structure, as I realize my responsibility as an educated person. (Actually, I write about 20,000 words a day). A typo based on one key not picking up,needs no apology. It happens on many laptops.I have previously pointed out that going over to correct those after typing causes the wedsite to think that this is a bot.I recieved two pieces of correspondence today, form luminaries in their fields, with errors made the same way. Their thinking was flawless.

  10. Where did I ask you to apologise, Linda? I advised on your use of grammar, syntax and spelling pro bono. Do you know the huge geograhical difference between Caroni Village and the larger County Caroni and Caroni Ltd? Caroni Village was never involved in any threat to the safety of any PM ever. You need to inform yourself even though resident in Texas but may I inform and repeat to you that rising and increasing opposition to the Property Tax is not exclusive to Caroni Village. It is being manifested in every nook and cranny in T&T even by NATUC, Civil Society Groups, Independent Senators, regular scheduled columnists, radio talk show hosts and their callers and OWTU as well as via hundreds of editorial letters many of which qualified as Letters of the Day (Express) or Centre Stage in the Guardian. In the Senate today (9.00 p.m.) Senator Mariano Browne may have telegraphed diplomatically in his winding up Statement a potential delay of implementation or possible withdrawal/ radical scaling down and this is the effect of and response to widespread democratic dissent as expressed by the people. That dissent was not exclusive to the people of Caroni Village whom you seem to imply may have been motivated in their spirited response by an agenda other than human right, legality, economic and social concerns and their right to be heard and not to be deprived thereof except by the due process of law such as a State of Emergency when civil and political rights are suspended and/or curtailed.

  11. Ms. L , I can see that you are still at it trying to raise the discourse, in this case as you encourage a former long serving T&T Public Servant Mr. K , that your interest as far as advancement of all our beautiful 1.3 million or more people collectively , is no different to his.
    Now look at the trouble you just put yourself into all because you fail to put a handle to the man’s name , like I have done for the million and 1 time I addressed you via this austere forum. Here you are now forced to go on the defensive to explain to all and sundry your unemployed / consultant status all the way across good old Americana.
    It’s your fault , you could have settled in good old Zoo York like the 500,000 former nurses and teachers , and housewives from the Caribbean led by T&T that are baby sitting snotty nose white kids, and serving as frustrated entry level nurses and or lofty matrons in Jewish Home for the Age, in Queens and Long Island.
    Some like Tom Hanks , and Mr K would say , “Huston , we have a problem.”
    I wish you well.

  12. Welcome back Neal, it seems like as an old boxer you have gotten your second wind and has jumped right back into the fray with your jabs, uppercuts and body blows. I personally think Mr. Kangal’s article was a very well thought out piece as what he was reporting on was what took place at the Caroni Assembly of Villagers meeting and as the first rule of responsible journalism dictates, Mr. Kangal reported on the who, what, why, when, where and how. I see no sinister motives in his piece as according to Bro. Valentino I think we need to ” forget this nigger and coolie grouse as we all belong in the same old house”, and it is becoming more delapidated by the minute. There comes a time when concious patriots must say enough, some call themselves patriots but are not willing to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of this place that we call home, this beautiful place which was once considered by all who saw her as Jewel, a cosmopolitan ray of sunshine lodged in the Caribbean Sea. We the people have allowed her to be raped and abused by greedy self serving sycophants on both side of the aisle, where the public purse is used as their personal piggy bank with no accountability to the people, cost overruns into the billions of dollars on government projects and on one AND I REPEAT no one in the executive branch of government has the moral will to stop this turpitude. When crime has escalated to the point of epidemic and our people are held hostage by a system that is ambivalent to the rule of law, when white collar criminals have been placed in executive positions in State Enterprises and have been given the keys to the treasury some are even expats, without any accountability to the public on how our money is being spent, when floods ravage huge communities on a regular basis our roads and highways have become the killing fields of lawless motorist, when in a land of plenty there is hunger and poverty all around us then I say it is time to throw off the yoke of oppression that has been placed on us by these strange creatures and develop a government that is truly for the people, by the people and governed by the will of the people. I think it is called Democracy.

  13. Thanks Vaughn. I am indeed happy to get back in the swing of things.Got to be a bit more selective this time around however in ‘picking my poison,’ in terms of what I am prepared to comment about , and the manner in whic I do so. I particulaly like your views on what is expected of us the few that still proclaim to be “conscious patriots.”
    I fully agree with you that a bit of civility is necessary as we all keep a judicious eye on the national and global economic pie in these turbulent times.
    Keep them honest .

  14. Both Neal and Lovelace seem to have missed the point of my very first posting, which was one simple question, still not answered. You see, at 65 plus, and not “minding anyone snotty nosed children”, I can read extensiely, and comment as much. I read the TntT papers every day. If any of you re-read all of Mr. Kangal’s posting (only go back four years) you will see the import of my question, which remains unanswered while people pick at a letter of the alphabet left untyped.

    It seems as if the sum total of what some Trinis still look at to see who could talk to them, is what their qualifications are and what they own of material things. There is both ebnvy and idiocy implied in such attitudes.
    I am one, blessed by the Triune God with the ability to travel widely and observe people.

    I sit on boards of organizations dedicated to making the world a better place for all hiumanity, and I number among my close associates, people of all ethnic groups.When I go about my normal buiness, people of the Indian subcontinent greet m by bowing, sometimes very old ladies do this, and it upsets me, because I do not expect obeisance. Enough of me.
    My credentials for talking on things Trini are impeccable. It is only people whose minds may be too narrow to admit the light of other opinions who may think that I am anti any one group. Read my novels- no don’t buy them, they are in every library.((Coin of Gold,(2001), The Sun The Snow The Sea (2005)) How a person portrays a people tells a lot. For example, compare my treatment of the Indo-Trinis with Naipaul’s treatment of the African-Trinis in his novels.
    I must go befoe this site cuts off my writing. Any typpos, forgive. Quick thinkers often do not see them.

  15. It was patently obvious to me that your question was a rhetorical one that needed no answer. It sought to telegraph that people of Caroni does (collectivity) not support what ever the Government advocates and this initiative of the people of Caroni is consistent with your thesis however ill-informed and myopic it may be. I am not a pupil to answer to the master however loaded and badly framed or written the question may be. But perhaps you were in a haste and in any case Kangal does not merit your time and clarity. You should aim for quality in your writing rather than 20,000 words per day. You are still making spelling, grammar, syntax and typo errors that you must avoid out of respect for the intelligence of your readers, your own literary image as well as the intellectual image of You cannot rationalise these on the basis of haste or any other reason such as your mind is thinking too fast for your hand to keep up with. It is inexcusable. I am enjoying this banter and exchange with an intelligent audience of friends adjudicating.

  16. “Mr. Kngal, could you tell us ONE THING that the people of Caroni are for that this government advocates?”

    A few conclusions could be derived if the article and the subsequent response question were deconstructed. Whether the writer of the article supports the PNM, COP, or UNC, it should not have mattered on this issue. Even though many people across this country oppose the property tax, the article is about the opposition to the property tax by the Caroni Assembly of Villagers and not the people of Caroni.

    Does the Caroni Assembly of Villagers represent all of Caroni? Is Caroni just ‘the Bamboo?’ Are places such as Cunupia, Enterprise, Couva, Londonville, and Chag located in Caroni? Could Mr. Kangal truly speak for the people of Caroni? The response question implies that the people in Caroni do not support government policies. Trinbagonians of all races live in Caroni, so it is safe to say that some people in Caroni support the policies of the government. Based on what the facts are about Caroni, we have to ask ourselves if the response question is clear. The response question also appears to be loaded politically with connotations and this could cause some people to believe that the person who wrote it supports the PNM, Manning, and the new property tax. If someone believes that the property tax is good for this country, and is worth supporting, then the reason(s) should be explained. The issues surrounding this proposed tax is important to many, and it would have been helpful had the person clearly stated their reason for supporting the proposed tax. We need to keep in mind that the way that people interpret and respond to what they read have a lot to do with their political inclinations.

    I am against the proposed property tax for the following reasons: The proposed property tax is very unpopular, is opposed by a very broad cross section of the population, and it has some people very angry. Governments (PNM, UNC & NAR) have lied and continue to lie about their fiscal policies. The present government has a very poor record when it comes to accountability for taxpayers dollars. Daily we hear allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds. Who in their right mind would think that the property tax dollars would be handled any differently? Manning will simply use this new source of revenue to fund his never-ending list of pet projects. The Manhattanisation of Port of Spain, diplomatic centre, smelter construction, performing arts centre construction, Tarouba stadium construction, attack helicopters gunships to chase bandits, and the hosting of summits to boost Manning’s ego. These are all very expensive items that have to be paid for. Just a year ago, Mariano Brown was bragging about how much money the government had. Where did it go? My prediction is that the government will back off this property tax only because too many BIG MONEY Trinbagonians are against it. We should put aside politics and let this government know that this property tax has to go. Once again, I am calling on Trinbagonians to put country before party.

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