All parcels of land in TT will be soon be accounted for when government digitises its registration, the Prime Minister.
Speaking at the launch of the National Local Roads/Streets Signage programme at the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP) compound in Diego Martin, Dr Rowley said the programme was under way and is now under the Ministry of Lands (Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries).
There will be, he said, “A unique identification for every parcel of land. When we get to the stage of digitising that, where every parcel of land is known, and you can now go on to who owns it and then go on to figuring out if it is up to date with taxes – when we get to that stage, we will then be able to say that we are effectively managing this country. I am looking forward to the day when that programme will be completed."
After reading a story in the newspaper of a woman who was before the court to answer how her name got onto the transfer deed for a $4 million parcel of land and how she was supposed to be the owner, Rowley said that kind of “stress and...may I say scampishness, that kind of problem,” would be minimised or completely removed when TT got to the point of identifying every parcel of land.
Rowley said local corporations would be able to administer on an ongoing basis that any change that is made can be better managed.
“More importantly, we will get to the stage where the taxes that are supposed to be paid by each owner of identifiable parcel of land, where every corporation knows every single parcel and runs a database on every single parcel that they can send you a notification in February or in March that you are behind in your taxes.
“And you can pay by so-and-so date to avoid penalties and we can manage that revenue stream in that way, and you can get the service that will flow from you having to pay those taxes for your local service.”
Rowley said once TT got to that stage, only then citizens will know that the Government is getting to real local government reform.
He said one of the main reasons why the Government has not been able to move as quickly as expected to the local government reform initiative is that it is still fighting the matter in court.
“Because we are in the court, and you know what goes on there. The matter has been challenged in the court, we have to wait on the court, and as a result of that, the main driver of local government reform has not been accomplished.
“The corporation will collect, keep, and use the revenues from its parcels of property within the borders of that corporation.
"But I am confident that we will get there. We are in the court; we are also doing the registration process. It is a slow and painstaking process where the Valuation Division is recording each parcel of land.”
Rowley said the matter will come to an end sometime and once it can be implemented, real local government reform will come in a way that will bring direct benefits to the people.