Response to Attorney General’s excuse for Procurement promulgation

Delaying the Procurement Law is Wrong! ‘rong like a Crix Biscuit!

This is my short video on the Attorney General’s Media Conference on Wednesday, 22 June 2022, and why we need to do better.

Please watch and Share – remember that Silence is the Enemy of Progress!

  • Programme Date: 26 June 2022
  • Programme Length: 00:05:34

AUDIO: Property Tax discussion on Aakash Vani 106.5 FM

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.

  • Programme Date: 16th February, 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:12:46
Audio courtesy Aakash Vani 106.5 FM

VIDEO: THE PANDEMIC ECONOMY – Construction, Procurement and Property Tax – 28 September 2021

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

  • Programme Date: 28 September 2021
  • Programme Length: 00:27:01

Response to National Trust Chairman on the Nelson Mandela Park proposal

This article was first published on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 on the Wired868 website under the title, “Afra Raymond returns to Nelson Mandela Park and refuses to play ball with National Trust


Supposedly in response to my own post in these pages on 9 September 2021, the National Trust made an engaging and informative post here on 17 September 2021. The most striking aspect of that reply was that the essential query was not addressed at all.

For those who have an interest in these issues, let me attempt to re-state here just what those essential issues are.

Continue reading “Response to National Trust Chairman on the Nelson Mandela Park proposal”

Does Size really Matter? AN UPDATE

JAMP logo

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.

Continue reading “Does Size really Matter? AN UPDATE”

Govt’s Property Tax gamble – Trinidad and Tobago Guardian

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, a past president of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC), said the move to implement the Property Tax would be widely unpopular at a time of many burning issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the existing socio-economic situations.

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.

The national totals of Property Tax paid in the period 1993-2009.
Continue reading “Govt’s Property Tax gamble – Trinidad and Tobago Guardian”

Nelson Mandela Park revisited: the silence of the National Trust

Your silence will not protect you

Audre Lorde, on the false benefits and toxic consequences earned from calculated or cowardly silences.

I had no intention of returning to this issue but Trinidad and Tobago Newsday’s Friday, 27 August 2021 article (Woodford Square to become heritage site (newsday.co.tt) was a sharp reminder that there is more to be said. The article explained that the Port of Spain Mayor had a ‘private consultation’(!) with the National Trust on 25 August 2021 as a result of which it was decided that Woodford Square is to become a national heritage site.

Just like Nelson Mandela Park, which is listed in the Heritage Asset Register of the National Trust.

The National Trust of T&T was established by statutes—Acts No. 11 of 1991 and 31 of 1999—and is listed with State Enterprises and Boards under the Ministry of Planning and Development. It is possible to take membership of the National Trust and I have been a member for some years, which is why I posted the following on its Facebook page on 11 August 2021:

“Is the National Trust going to make any statement on the proposed ‘revitalisation’ of the Nelson Mandela Park in POS? I am an anxious, dues-paying member…thank you…”

Afra Raymond to National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago Facebook page – August 11 at 9:24 AM

It seems that Facebook post has been deleted from the National Trust page, in any case it is simply not visible, so here is what FB states in relation to its status –

In its own words, The National Trust says that it is:

“…established for the purpose of:

  1. listing and acquiring such property of interest as the Trust considers appropriate;
  2. permanently preserving lands that are property of interest and as far as practicable, retaining their natural features and conserving the animal and plant life;” (my emphasis)

In accordance with its stated statutory purpose, the National Trust should have made some comment or intervention in the proposals for the ‘astroturfing’ of the Nelson Mandela Park under a Public Private Partnership; that is my considered view.

But on its Facebook page, its website or its Instagram page, there is no comment whatsoever on the issue and I am unaware that any National Trust official has appeared in either the voice, vision or print media to discuss the proposals related to it. In light of the National Trust’s perfect silence, the pertinent question is whether that silence arises from an error of omission or from oversight or whether saying nothing was an intended response.

Continue reading “Nelson Mandela Park revisited: the silence of the National Trust”

What’s hiding behind the scenes in the Nelson Mandela Park affair?

I wish to present in this article a summary of my main points on the proposed ‘revitalization’ of the Nelson Mandela Park (formerly King George V Park or, before that, Pompeii Savannah) in west POS.

Some spaces are of such significance that they should be altered only after the greatest care and consideration—no hustle, no bustle! Nelson Mandela Park is certainly such a space.

Privatisation and PPP can have the effect of limiting or ending access to public facilities for poorer citizens, so we would need to have solid guarantees of right to access, regardless of income. Of course, that kind of approach is contrary to a model which relies on paying customers or groups.

Let us now take a closer look at the actual proposal.

Continue reading “What’s hiding behind the scenes in the Nelson Mandela Park affair?”