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Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, is appealing for greater compliance by Jamaicans in the payment of property taxes.

Minister Arscott, who made the plea during his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 11, said the payment of property taxes is key in ensuring the delivery of critical services at the local level.

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He stated that the need for compliance is even more crucial as the Ministry no longer benefits from “deficit financing” from the Consolidated Fund to assist in financing its operations.

“The Ministry will have to pull its own weight. In other words, the efficiency of garbage collection, provision of fire services, cleanliness of markets, repair of parochial roads, and other local services, will be directly related to the extent of compliance in the payment of property taxes, and the realization of other local revenue,” he informed the House.

Property tax intake for the 2011/12 and 2012/13 fiscal years, when the Ministry received support from the Consolidated Fund, amounted to $1.8 billion and $1.7 billion respectively, representing an average 52 per cent compliance rate. For those periods, the Ministry received deficit financing of $512 million and $480 million respectively, to carry out public cleansing, and $1.6 billion and $250 million, to pay for street lighting..

“Therefore…deficit financing provided $2.2 billion and $700 million in 2011/12 and 2012/13 respectively. Based on that…the takeaway is that, at prevailing compliance levels, property tax revenues are woefully inadequate to provide the minimal acceptable levels of service in the local government sector,” Minister Arscott outlined.

In noting that persons have a tendency to demonstrate if state services are not deemed to be adequately delivered, he lamented the “conspiracy of silence” when property taxes are not paid.

“Local Government is everybody’s business, and in the same way that the Ministry has to pull its own weight, we are calling on all Jamaicans to do their part by paying their property taxes,” the Minister appealed.

Contact: Douglas McIntosh