On Emancipation Day 2022 in Trinidad and Tobago, Afra Raymond reiterates his message on the deplorable excuses offered by the government of Trinidad and Tobago to fully implement its Public Procurement regime. He wrote previously, “We are being told by our [Attorney General] that the new Public Procurement law cannot be implemented at this time because a significant number of Procuring Agencies are unprepared, and that is totally unacceptable.”
Afra Raymond spoke with Shabaka Kambon on the Indaba radio programme on 91.1 Talk City. Their discussion centred on the ongoing delays in the implementation of the Public Procurement regime in Trinidad and Tobago. Audio courtesy 91.1 FM Talk City
Afra Raymond was interviewed by Satesh Mahabir on Property Tax on the Morning Panchayat show on Aakash Vani 106.5 FM on 16th February, 2022. UNC Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial was the other guest on the programme.
Afra Raymond joins a panel on The Pandemic Economy, the pre-budget show on TV6 Television in Trinidad and Tobago, where he and the other speakers discuss the local construction industry and the public debt to it, public procurement along with the soon-to-be-implemented updated Property Tax regime. Video courtesy CCN TV6
Afra Raymond is interviewed by Jason Williams on The Morning Brew on CNC3 TV on the topic of property tax in light of the impending roll out of the updated taxation regime. Video courtesy CNC3 Television.
I was invited to submit this article to compare and contrast developments between T&T and Jamaica in relation to the critical accountability, governance and anti-corruption work being undertaken by my colleagues at the Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP) – this article was first published on JAMPJA’s website on 29 July 2021. Instead, I am provocatively posing the question as to why both our countries appear unable to prosecute or convict, far less imprison, any important or prominent person. It seems that we are actually unwilling to set and hold a high standard for conduct within our ruling class.
The anti-corruption discourse in our country usually rationalises the failure or refusal to prosecute any important persons for corrupt acts as being a result of our small size. After all, everyone has a friend who will ‘see for them’ – as we say in Trini, ‘A for Apple, B for Bat and these thieving people does C for theyself!’ Those friends will warn them, lie for them, forget for them or even lose a file or two for them. We have all had these frustrating discussions and wondered if we can ever muster the will or the wits to lock-up the important people who regularly commit acts of grand corruption.
An important aspect we seldom discuss is the toxic role of party political loyalty, in which national concerns are routinely replaced by electoral jockeying.
When one considers the global news on this anti-corruption struggle, it is clear that in some substantial way the tide has turned. In a variety of countries, the citizens have become so outraged at the damage that large-scale corruption has done to their societies that the authorities there have now started to take decisive action against this scourge. It all makes me wonder when is the Caribbean going to catch-up with the rest of the world in punishing these destructive acts.
The T&T Guardian newspaper interviewed Afra Raymond on the issue of the new property tax regime and its re-introduction into the country. Following is the article with the series of Q&As with Editor/Journalist Debra Wanser for the article, published on Sunday, Sep 19 2021. Click here to read the complete article on the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian website
The Government collected $143 million in 2009, the year that the old Property Taxes ended.
The current estimates of the Property Tax to be collected are to the tune of $504 million annually, so that is about three-and-a-half times more than what property owners paid in 2009, according to Afra Raymond, chartered surveyor and managing director of Raymond & Pierre Limited.
The revenue lost over the last 12 years since the axing of the tax could be more than $5.50 billion, Raymond estimated.
Raymond believes that with only a slim parliamentary majority, the introduction of the new Property Tax will be a considerable gamble for the Government.
T&T is getting set to reintroduce Property Tax as one of the revenue streams which is expected to bring in millions of dollars for the Treasury.
While there is no specific date given for the rollout, the Government has started laying the foundation. They are attempting to populate the valuation roll. The Government has put out advertisements calling on citizens to file information on property and land ownership with the Valuations Division, Ministry of Finance (MOF). If citizens fail to do so by the end of November 2021, they can face a fine of $5,000.
With this move, Property Tax can be levied on residential and commercial properties and agricultural lands.
Raymond felt that the objections from the Opposition United National Congress elements are bemusing, to say the least. This, he said, is for two reasons–”Firstly, the official record of tax collections from 1993 to 2009 as shown in the graph and table below. When the UNC was in power in the seven-year period 1995-2001, there was a dramatic and unexplained decline in the collections of Land & Building Taxes, which are collected in the non-municipal areas. That decline was reversed when the UNC left office. The table and chart give the details, based on my research in the official records of the Ministry of Finance.
“Secondly, the People’s Partnership (PP) used ‘Axe the Tax’ as a strong slogan in the 2010 general election which they won with 29 out of 41 seats. With that rare three-fifths majority in hand, there was tremendous scope for the PP to have lawfully changed or removed any laws or arrangements it wished, without any need for PNM support. Like the Property Tax, for instance. But that never happened, for whatever reason.”
Raymond answers questions on Property tax
You are of the view that the revision of the property tax is long overdue, can you elaborate on the need for this, please.
Yes, Property Tax is long overdue. The last time Property Tax was collected in T&T was in 2009, so 2022–which is next year, which is what is under discussion–would make that a total of 12 years that no taxes were paid by property owners. By any measure, that is a tremendous benefit that has been enjoyed by property owners. In the previous taxation system, the property taxes were called House Rates for the five Municipalities and Land & Building Taxes for the other parts of the country. The five municipalities are Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, Arima, Point Fortin and Chaguanas.