Property tax could be doubled

Home owners in Grenada could be seriously affected by the tax measures to be implemented in the new year by the nine-month old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government.

A confidential document seen by THE NEW TODAY shows that the government is thinking of doubling the property tax rate on land, as well as the charges to be applied on residential buildings.

Government has been forced to hunt for additional revenue as part of its so-called 3-year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to deal with a severe financial and economic crisis facing the island.

According to a document prepared by the Ministry of Finance, it is being proposed to “increase Property Tax on land from 0.10% to 0.2% and residential buildings from 0.15% to 0.30% (exemption on first $100,000.00 remains”.

The proposed increase could see persons who previously paid $300.00 in property tax on land now having to pay $600.00 into the Treasury.

However, a source within the Ministry of Finance said that the rate could even be higher in 2014 because of a re-assessment being undertaken on the value of properties on the island.

“Whereas some properties were valued at $250, 000.00 a year or two ago, it is quite possible that the new value to be given based on the new assessment, it could be anything like $300 or $325.000,00”, he told this newspaper.

“So instead of the property tax being levied on $250, 000.00, it could now apply to $300 or $325, 000.00 based on the new assessment. One way or another people will be subjected to much higher taxes on their properties in 2014”, he said.

THE NEW TODAY was also able to obtain a list of reccomendation made to government by the island’s Trade Union Movement for the consideration of the Mitchell government as part of the Structural Adjustment Programme.

The proposals include the following:

(1). The establishment of a Stakeholders Committee to monitor the performance of the Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme on a quarterly basis;

(2). The establishment of a Monitoring Committee to ensure that loans and grants secured by Grenada are properly managed and stringent expenditure controls be maintained;

(3). A presence of a Labour Representative at the table when multi- national agreements with IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions are being negotiated;

(4). That new and emerging sectors must be explored particularly in the area of energy. Oil and gas exploration should be pursued with credible partners or institutions.

(5). That pensioners be exempted from the payment of income tax on pensions;

(6). That self-employed persons particularly professionals, informal industry workers pay their fair share of taxes;

7. That tax compliance measures be put in place and a more efficient tax collection mechanism be implemented to be monitored by a Stakeholders Committee;

8. That jobs be saved wherever possible with retrenchment being a last resort;

(9). That the productive sectors be stimulated to increase productivity levels, boost economic growth and provide job opportunities for our people and in particular our young people;

(10). To seriously address agriculture in order to reduce our large import bill, we need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow.

(11). That at the termination of the three year Homegrown programme, a fair and equitable tax system is considered going forward.

(12). GTUC demands that the current subsidies on consumer items such as food, 20lb LPG Gas and medicines remain in place for the duration of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP);

(13). In an effort to ease the burden of direct taxation on the working class and pensioners, GTUC wishes to reinforce that Government explore the following options as was proposed at the first Social Partners Forum:

* A Cell Phone Levy

* A Robin Hood or Financial Transaction Tax of 0.1% on trades of stock and bonds and 0.01% on derivatives trade.

(14). GTUC calls on Government to enact legislation for the establishment of a Consumer Protection Agency to monitor pricing, competition, safety standards, quality and legality of goods and services provided to consumers.

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