The ability of local government bodies to collect property tax in their jurisdictions has not been achieved because of the “tremendous fight” Government got from the Opposition over the legislation in the Parliament.
“What has been the disappointment in this whole exercise is the other major area of local government reform, that driver of local government reform, which is to give local government the right to collect and use property tax as their immediate source of revenue. That has not been achieved so far because we have had a tremendous fight in the Parliament with respect to the property tax,” he told a gathering during the Conversations with the Prime Minister Series at Mt Lambert Community Centre, Mt Lambert on Friday night.
“That return to the property tax, the intention as we had said in the local government election, is to have the property tax collected and each corporation will collect the tax within its borders and use it, using the same Tobago model, where you have that revenue for immediate use.
“We have had a tremendous fight in the Parliament but I can tell you we are coming to the end of that and, very soon, we will be in a position to have local government bodies collect property tax and use it in your district.”
Rowley said this will bring about a significant change in local government operations.
The legislation to give effect to the property tax was passed recently in the Parliament.
The Prime Minister was responding to a question from Darren Winchester, councillor for Petit Bourg/Mt Lambert/Champs Fleurs, regarding advancements in the Government’s thrust toward local government reform.
Winchester recalled the Government had campaigned vigorously on the issue in 2016.
Assuring that local government reform remained a top priority, Rowley said the legislative process was completed.
“And, in the very near future, we will be in the Parliament to make the legislative changes to a number of laws to bring about the new state of local government governance.”
Rowley said the document for the new law is expected to go before the legislative review committee this week.
“But I am advised there are 17 laws that need to be amended. That has been done now and we are at the stage of just getting the Cabinet clearance so early in the next parliamentary term, after the August vacation, the legislation to bring about far-reaching local government reform will be enacted.”
In the meantime, Rowley said some advancements have been made with respect to community policing.
“We are quite advanced with respect to the community policing. The local government minister has actually hired some of those officers already.
“The main police service is continuing the training of those persons who have been selected ... So very soon, we are going to have our municipal police service in place.”