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Permanent Secretary in the former Ministry of Local Government, Devon Rowe, has said that more property owners were paying their taxes.
Addressing a meeting of government revenue collectors involved in the Property Tax Special Project, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, on (Sept. 28), Mr. Rowe pointed out that he has observed a notable increase of $400 million in collections for the 2006/07 period over what was collected for 2005/06.
“That was, in considerable part, due to the efforts of this programme,” he affirmed. He noted, however, that the figure was negligible in the context of $6 billion in total arrears that had accumulated over many years. The Permanent Secretary was very upbeat about the “immense contribution” agents in the Project have made to raise the compliance level from 39 per cent in 2005/06 to 45 per cent last year, adding that the momentum has continued into this year. “I’ve also looked at this year, and the collection this year so far is up by $300 million as compared to the similar period last year. And if you were to annualize that, it would mean that you would be roughly about $800 million up on last year’s collection. Now we have to keep this momentum going, because the work that you are doing is so, so very important,” he told the revenue collectors.
“The benefits from this initiative will lead to broadening the collections base that we now have,” he said.
Mr. Rowe reiterated that improving compliance would negate, to some extent, the need to increase the rates. “To the extent that compliance improves, it means that the need for rate increase won’t be that great. So, it is important for this project to really get going, so that the compliance rate can get up,” the Permanent Secretary emphasised.