PNM Senator and Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte said he would fully support the land Valuation Amendment Bill (2018) where anyone trying to defraud the Government be taxed $5,000.
“It is more than adequate. You must not wilfully attempt to defraud the Government because when you attempt to defraud the Government doing things like that, you are actually stealing from the poor. These are the people who we are attempting to protect, and we are actually putting them more at risk,” Le Hunte said during a debate on the Valuation Amendment Bill in the Upper House, Tuesday.
He said there was a nexus between the Valuation of Land Amendment Bill and the Property Tax Bill and if they were able to put these two bills together, several issues would be solved.
“These bills are meant to protect the most vulnerable in society while ensuring that those who are in position to contribute more would do so. We are in difficult economic times. For us to get out of these times we need to come together. We have to stop demonising everything and change the narrative. This bill is about bringing us to the 21st century,” he said.
He added: “We are doing this not because we are bad people. You have a property, you need to get it valued and we need valuation rules, and we need to have our laws lined up so it would move into the property tax. There is nothing cynical about it.”
Le Hunte said it was not an attempt to take advantage of poor people, but said it only made sense if one lived on a property that had more significant value that person should pay more tax than someone living in a more humble abode or area.
“There is nothing wrong with a bill that allows the Government to get more tax out of that. As a matter of fact, contrary to popular belief, if you are able to collect your taxes, it would allow for you to be able to do a number of things that you want to do for the less fortunate in society. One should not be arguing against this, it is something that is natural. This is not about an opportunity to raise revenue,” Le Hunte said.