Woodford Square Statement on Property Tax
Posted: November 24, 2009
Caroni Assembly of Villagers
The following Statement was delivered at The People's Democracy Rally by Stephen Kangal. The Rally was held at Woodford Square on Sunday 22 November 2009. The People's Democracy is a new civic society group with its membership consisting of trade unions and NGO's and numbers 44 so far.
Please see list of organizations attached at the end of the article.
Sisters and Brothers all
I will need two hours to present the case for the complainants against the PT. But I have been allotted 10 mins. You can read all the arguments that I have cited in the booklet that I wrote against the Property Tax.
I am authorized by the 44 labour unions and civic society organizations within the history-making People's Democracy to make a request to you my Sisters and Brothers today assembled in Woodford Square.
Please we want you to join us in sending a loud message to the Manning Administration.
What is this message? The People's Democracy calls upon the Government to immediately withdraw the unilateral imposition of this unprecedented radically draconian, astronomical, callous, insensitive, abominable, pauperizing and inhumane new Property Tax (PT).
Sisters and brothers, comrades, this tax is unlike any other national issue. It has grave and imminent electoral security implications for the Government were they to proceed with their fiscal madness.
They have in fact disqualified themselves from imposing this tax by reason of their reckless squandermania and wanton mismanagement of the $300bn public purse.
Government must manage the dynamic forces of social environment- not indulge in this act of fiscal provocation.
You doubled our electricity bill.
You taxed beer—the poor man's drink.
You sent up the price of the poor man's affordable foreign used cars to make sure that new car dealers are now making a killing.
To sell our cars we must pay 400% increase in transfer fees.
The small businesses in Bamboo have gone buss!
Today we The People's Democracy assembled in Woodford Square send a warning to the Government.
We playing dead to ketch corbeau alive!
Do not misinterpret our silence for consent of the PT. The property tax is the one singular issue after our recent cricketing exploits in India on which we the people are united once again.
'Manday' tries to keep us divided and exploit us electorally.
Widespread opposition to this punitive property tax has broken down the barriers and boundaries of ethnicity, politics, geography, class, caste, colour, religion and gender.
We are one people unified in opposing to this heavy fiscal burden being imposed on us at this guava season.
We have had enough from this runaway, prodigal-spending and mismanaging Government.
They frittered away $300 billion of our money in prodigal spending and riotous living over the last seven years. They circumvented all the checks and balances to wasteful and non-accountable government expenditure.
This is not PNM country. Our patrimony is not Patrick's money.
Mr. Manning is the Prodigal Son who took his $300 billion share of our money. He indulged in non-accountable, lack of transparent riotous living. He wallowed in prodigal spending via UDECOTT and Calder Hart. Now he wants to take us to live with pigs and swines while he built an Emperor's castle. He like the Rich Fool broke down his old barns to build this Castle.
He is not penitent. The pastor-to-be does not come back to us and admit that he has sinned against us. He is one of our hired servants.
But, we say loud and clear: No Taxation Without Representation!
What do we say? Let us all say it together! No Taxation Without Representation! No Taxation without Accountability! No Taxation without Consultations! No Taxation without Value for Our Money! No Taxation without Transparency in Government Spending!
We Call upon Minister of Finance Uncarin Taxsharer to:
AXE DE TAX
Like the two Servants in the Parable of the Talents we invested wisely our God-given talents in building a home for the welfare our families. Our home is our sanctuary. It is our mandir. It is our castle.
But the dimpled tax collector now comes to take even that that we think that we hath. He wants to give the $7 billion to be collected from the property tax to Calder Hart to spend spend spend While we starve starve! Starve! It is business as usual for Manning.
But what do we say?
AXE DE TAX!
The Government is hell-bent on introducing a property tax by 1 January 2010. They have retained an American company at the cost of $100m to develop the programme for the tax working 24/7. Citizens working with the American company have told me that they cannot understand how Manning can do this to us. We not taking that so!
Sisters and Brothers!
The strategy is that we must create such a climate of widespread opposition to the PT that they will decide that it is politically suicidal to proceed any further.
We The People's Democracy must make them realize that it is politically insane and incorrect to do so. We must flex people's power to show who is really in charge.
Sisters and Brothers you cannot trust them. I want you to trust what I say. The PT is a blank cheque on which they can write any amount. They cannot tell us what it will bring into the Treasury. Do you want to give Manning and his sweet-Hart another blank UDECOTT cheque to vandalise the Treasury?
Do you want to give your PT money to Manning to spend while 14% of our people live on US $2 Dollar per day?
Do you want to give $7 billion of our money in property taxes to Manning while 30% of us (250,000) are living below the poverty line?
Do you my sisters and brothers here in Woodford Square want to reduce the fixed pensions/incomes of our 200,000 pensioners by this astronomical increase in property tax?
Do you young sons and daughters want to pay estate duty, inheritance tax, the reverse mortgage when your pensioner parents die and leave their homes for you?
You see Sisters and Brothers we are not opposed to property taxation. We have been paying it since 1948.
Reasons for Withdrawal
Why are we are violently opposed to the PT and calling for its withdrawal? These are the bases for our position:
- The huge quantum of the proposed increases ranging from 1000% to 6000%. That is a flagrant violation of the rules of natural justice and equity. Homeowners will lose their homes when they cannot pay the huge increases in house tax.
- The unilateral, arrogant, deceptive, thief-in-the night way in which the PT is being introduced. We are up against the well-lubricated propaganda machine of the State.
- The estimated $7Bn Property tax revenues are going into the Consolidated Fund instead of the local Government bodies which they could have used to spend in the development of their respective areas.
- The centralization of the Property Tax Collection in T&T Revenue Authority because it is another nail on the coffin of Local Government.
- A Politically appointed new T&T Revenue Authority collecting 90% of our taxes including the $7 billion from the property tax. They could use the sums as any of the Special Purpose Companies with no accounts being submitted.
- The criteria of the rent on your home to be used for arriving at our property tax assessment and no concern for the actual low income of the home-owners or number of persons living in it.
- House repairs and home improvement becoming a thing of the past and the decline of the quality of our valuable housing stock.
- Government Ministers saying and promising one thing and the Minister of Finance saying quite the opposite. There is in-fighting in the Cabinet for the post of Minister of Finance.
- The lack of trust, contradictions, lack of credibility of the Government in anything they tell us about the property tax.
- Being branded as ignorant, dotish and stupid by Senator Mariano Browne because we dare to question the Government on the Property Tax.
- Government taking away a huge sum of $7 billion from consumers when Governments world-wide are reducing taxation to promote consumer spending and confidence to beat the recession.
- Agents of the Government posing as valuators whose bona fides we do not know. They will invade your bedrooms to see what we have in clear violation of the privacy of our homes without a warrant. Will they give information to their bandit friends to break into our homes?
The People's Democracy calls upon you today with hands in the air to show that you call upon the Manning Administration to do the following:
- Withdraw the Property Tax immediately.
- Hold consultations with the stake-holding communities to effect the Land and Building Tax Act and the Municipal Corporations Act to arrive at a more reasonable, consensus determined and affordable system of property taxation.
- Give back to the borough/city/regional corporations taxes that will be used in their respective jurisdictions as part of local government reform.
- Give precedence to bringing the 300,000 properties that do not pay any land and building taxes into the tax net. You can then know what increase revenues will be realized on top of the $125M realized in 2008 before you impose any new obscene and vulgar taxation on the current law-abiding property tax paying owners.
God Bless and Thank you Comrades Sisters and Brothers!
The People's Democracy: Public Statement