THE EDITOR: I acknowledge that taxes must be paid and sometimes increased in order to maintain and develop the society. Any government could point to all they ‘did for the people’ with our taxes and natural resources dollars, but I am sure if people scrutinize the projects we would find corruption as the underlying reason they bought into many ideas or chose certain companies to work with. Ever so often, a case will get the attention of the wider public.
As a result of corruption, we do not get the best value for our money.
I am particularly angry with how this Patrick Manning administration dealt with the windfall in revenue the country got as a result of the increases in the prices of gas and oil following the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, and the subsequent wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Our government decided that a large portion of our revenue should be invested in two summits and buildings as showpieces for those summits. Some of us were calling that a waste of our resources but Mr. Manning was hell-bent on having his way. He even wanted an executive jet and if it were not for our protests that coincided with diminishing fortunes, we would have been saddled with another huge debt.
When world economies fell, together with the price of oil and gas, the government found itself short of revenue. This seems to be how we arrived at this new Property Tax.
This tax on properties will go up in some cases by 1000% and it will affect people across all sectors of the society. It is not like landlords, for example, would absorb this tax; they will pass it on to their tenants. Those who own homes or those who are renting will have to pay more. In the case of businesses, the increase in Property Tax would be passed onto consumers. Thus, consumers would be paying increased taxes on their own properties as well as increases in goods and services from businesses.
What is also particularly disturbing is how property values rose thereby contributing to the significant increase in cost of properties and property taxes by the new rating system that this PNM government is introducing. The government and several large companies (some of which I felt were laundering money through purchasing and developing properties) suddenly went on a buying and construction spree. Many gated communities and commercial buildings were constructed alongside the government’s mega building projects. This in turn sent up the cost of materials, labour and the value of property. Home owners, who are working or have worked to pay off 30 year mortgages and planned on a less troublesome life, suddenly have to find additional funds to pay this new Property Tax. This is a very disturbing situation.
On top of all this, the government dishonestly comes to the public and says this new Property Tax is about bringing equity in the society. They also say that what people currently pay in taxes cannot pay for the services in their communities. They are being quite dishonest, of course. The general taxes people pay is supposed to meet the cost of all these services they are now trying to make people believe they are getting for free or cheaply. As salaries rose, so too did taxes. The revenue from oil and gas is supposed to add to what they collect from all measure of taxes.
The reality is, the government feels that it needs more revenue to meet its budget especially after they squandered so much revenue on untimely, unnecessary and hasty mega projects to satisfy Manning’s ego.
If the government needs to raise taxes because they are short on revenue, then they should level with the public. But they have not done that. They are misleading people into believing that the new Property Tax rates are about correcting some inequity in the system.
For lying about the Property Tax, similar to how they lied about the ‘minimal’ increase in electricity rates (which, for many, went up over 100%), I do not support the increase in Property Tax and the Manning-led PNM government.
Patrick Manning Must Go.