Local Government Ministry to Hold Town Hall Meetings to Improve Tax Compliance

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie. (File)

Story Highlights

  • In a bid to increase Property Tax compliance, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, will be holding a series of Town Hall Meetings right across the island, to sensitize citizens and to answer their questions.
  • The first will be held in St. Elizabeth on May 4, which has the lowest levels of Property Tax collection.
  • Expressing confidence on the impact the campaign will have, Minister McKenzie told JIS News that he was anticipating a very positive outcome.

In a bid to increase property tax compliance, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, will be holding a series of town hall meetings right across the island to sensitise citizens and to answer their questions.

The first will be held in St. Elizabeth on May 4, which has the lowest levels of property tax collection.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, explained that teams led by the Social Development Commission will be on the ground for two weeks, following which the town hall meeting will be held.

“It is important that we forge a meaningful partnership with the Jamaican people on property taxes. It is the intention of the Ministry, starting Monday (April 24), we’ll be in the parish of St. Elizabeth… reaching out and talking to the people about the importance of paying property taxes,” he stated.

He was speaking at his post-Sectoral Debate press conference, held at the Ministry’s Hagley Park Road offices on April 20.

Minister McKenzie also informed that town hall meetings will be held in Manchester and Clarendon.

“Manchester, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth have the lowest compliance rates in property taxes and we will be going into these parishes. We are prepared to face the wrath of the people, but it is important that we face them and explain to them what their property taxes have been doing and will continue to do for them,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Minister McKenzie disclosed that the introduction of the mobile tax collection unit has helped the Government to realise a significant improvement in tax revenue.

The two mobile tax collection units were on the road for two months, February and March, and some $42.9 million was collected.

Mr. McKenzie pointed out that these amounts do not include cash deposits, as the units are not yet retrofitted to collect these.

“We have lost close to $10 million in revenue, in raw cash, because there was no provision for cash collection. Well, we are well advanced on that and soon I will be making an announcement when the tax mobile will be able to start collecting cash,” he stated.

He further added that Government wanted to make it easy for Jamaicans to pay their taxes and that they were well aware of the frustration of many persons when faced with long lines at the Tax Collectorate.

“We are taking the tax mobile to the people and making the payment of property taxes much easier. We’ll be intensifying that programme and looking towards purchasing one more tax mobile unit. That will put us in a position to make further inroads islandwide in collecting property taxes,” the Minister noted.

Expressing confidence on the impact the campaign will have, Minister McKenzie told JIS News that he was anticipating a very positive outcome.

He said he was aware that people wanted to do the right thing and pay their property taxes, while giving the assurance that the teams were not going into the communities to quarrel or threaten anyone.

“On the contrary. we are going to just talk to people and to press home the point that it is their taxes that provide the very services that they require at the local level, the street lights, and the collection of garbage. If we have to talk firmly with someone, then we’ll have to, but it’s not about creating a fuss. We only want to encourage them to do what is right,” he stated.

Making his 2017/18 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on April 19, Mr. McKenzie said the property tax collection target of $7.26 billion for 2016/17 was exceeded by $350 million, totalling $7.61 billion.

JIS Social