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PROPERTY TAX, SEABRIDGE, OIL SPILL: SAME ISSUE! By Peter Garvey

posted 2 May 2017, 07:21 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 2 May 2017, 07:26 ]
Image result for taxI have been following somewhat vaguely the uproar about the return of the Property Tax. Some of the commentators I hold in elevated regard, others I just dismiss as "jibber jabber"; I won't call names. Now, after having a basic understanding of what the tax is versus what it is supposed to be, and given the amount of comments, I wish to share my view.

I have no issue with paying the Property Tax (or any tax for that matter). I have an issue when my tax dollars do not work for me. Health Surcharge is supposed to help improve/reform the health system and it has not done so.

The Property Tax is going to go the same way. I will not see improvements to road infrastructure, garbage collection or any issue that affects my property and community. I say this because the plan is to place revenues from this tax into the hands of Central Government for macroeconomic distribution, rather than local government for macroeconomic development.

This Government has not shown an iota of intelligent direction when it comes to spending. Our fiscal policies have not been steered into development. Rather, we have seen the dipping into the HSF for recurrent spending. That strategy is akin to taking a loan to buy groceries, pay rent, send your children to school and not look for some sort of income source. What will eventually happen is that all your funds will be drained and all your dependents will suffer.

Further, politicians around the world have become versed in "spinning". So much so that we ourselves cannot unravel statements of fact from "alternative fact" (yuh know, lies). So when the current administration during the last Local Government Election spoke of reform, and spoke to the proceeds of Property Tax revenues going to local government bodies, and then say that it will be funnelled elsewhere, then I have a problem paying that Tax. The sentiment of providing local government bodies with the revenues from this Tax was also presented in the 2016 mid-year review of the budget if I am not mistaken.

Long and short: I have a problem paying my Property Taxes for Central Government to administer. I don't want to hear Kamla, Prakash, Roget, Remy, Abdulah or the like, talk about how bad the tax is. I want to know where the action is and provide the type of education necessary to bring this Government to where the PEOPLE benefit, and make it an example to any other administration that they cannot foist things like these on us without caring for our progress.

There is a sentiment that says that we are a nation with a "9 day memory". I posit that that is a mere feeling because I believe that our memory lasts up to the weekend. We blow up on some issue that presents itself during the week, but as we stray to the panyard, rum-shop, river lime, etc (although you hardly may hear burning issues argued with any fervour on "the avenue") and we blow the steam that boils in our bellies like a straight shot of Puncheon Rum, issues get watered down like a free rum and coke and most times forgotten like how did you drive home safely after an alcoholic binge.

Usually the conversations degenerate into N vs. C (vice versa via geography and company) and the average citizen who listens without interjection leaves with the message that we are in some kind of pseudo race war.

We must view ourselves as citizens of one nation in every aspect. We must look at how we are socially and it will inform who we must become in all other national spheres. We celebrate our religious holidays as if we are one, but segregate ourselves into racial, geographical, religious and class lines outside of that.

Image result for oil spill trinidadWe approach our issues in the same segregational manner with selfish modular purpose, not seeing that "a blow to one is a blow to all". For example, the oil spills in the Gulf of Paria is not only an issue for the HSE of Petrotrin, it is also a national HSE issue. The FFOS should not be the only organization lending their voice to such an issue. Civil society groups whose office(s) may be located far from the "Gulf" must realize and prioritize that this issue affects them also.

While that is going on, the issue of getting goods to Tobago is being fought as if it is a different battle from this and the Property Tax issue is being treated differently from both. The issue with the JLSC is being treated as different from all the others but the issue is really the same.

The issue is about how we manage our resources and what systems must be in place to ensure transparency, accountability, integrity and all the other nouns that are made to sound empty on the campaign trail. We need to fill these words with meaning as citizens going forward.

We need to stop looking for the messiah to save us. We have to become the change we want to see. We have to stop waiting for manna to fall from heaven. We must shake the damn tree! Our focus needs to be on national development and not what party "we" voting for "umpti-something" years. Loyalty is supposed to be earned, not inherited. A leader must first recognize the responsibilities of rank, before he enjoys one privilege of it.

A change must come and we all must be at the front of that change together. This we must do if we are to go FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER, into a prosperous future.
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