COP to oppose ‘PNM-style property tax’
By Cecily Asson Monday, September 9 2013
POLITICAL Leader of the Congress of the People (COP) Prakash Ramadhar said yesterday his party will strongly oppose a return of the property tax, similar to that proposed by the People’s National Movement in 2009.
Speaking with the media following a national council meeting at the party’s Operation Centre in Charlieville, Chaguanas, Ramadhar said the party will take a firm stand against a reintroduction of the PNM-styled property tax.
Ramadhar was in the forefront of the “Axe the Tax” campaign against the PNM’s property tax legislation in 2009.
On Saturday, Finance Minister Larry Howai said the proposed property tax measures would be not too different from the property tax legislation implemented under the PNM, except for the manner in which it is implemented.
Ramadhar also yesterday expressed his disappointment over last Thursday’s reshuffle of Cabinet saying that it was “not sufficient to really give (citizens) a sense of meaningful change in the appointment (of ministers) into the Cabinet.”
But not only did he express his dissatisfaction with realignment of ministerial portfolios, Ramadhar revealed that suggestions among them that ministries be reduced from at total of 32 to 24 “to ensure enhanced delivery of public goods and services” were totally ignored when the party leaders met with Prime Minister Kamla Persad before the reshuffle.
“A lot of the issues we spoke to in terms of restructuring, were not dealt with and to that end we are disappointed.” Ramadhar told journalists yesterday.
His sentiments were endorsed by party chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan when they spoke with members of the media.
COP is a partner in the coalition People’s Partnership Government which is now in its third year in office.
“Before the reshuffle on Thursday, we had shared with the Prime Minister in several meetings between the Prime Minister and myself as leader of the Congress of the People, and the Members of Parliament of the Congress of the People and indeed by documents which we took the time and effort to put for the consideration of the Prime Minister, matters we thought would be necessary to enhance the Government’s structure of this country, to change the face of the Cabinet to better allow our population to feel there is meaningful change and for the population to partner in improving the level of governance. I want to say having regards to what happened on Thursday afternoon, we believe not sufficient was done to really give a sense of meaningful change in the appointment into the Cabinet. We had suggested in our documents, that the Cabinet itself, be made smaller with lesser ministries.”
And even as he went on to congratulate his colleagues, former COP and UNC member Gary Griffith who was appointed National Security Minister and MP Rodger Samuel who is now Minister of National Diversity, Ramadhar said he felt it was important that as an independent party, they had to speak out.
“The real issue at hand is the credibility of the Government and we were looking towards the government structure and the ability to enhance credibility of the Government,”he said
On the issue of Local Government election, COP said they were prepared to move ahead with plans to contest seats as a single party. They also intend to have their own aldermen.
And while they await a meeting today to finalise with main partner United National Congress (UNC) the negotiation of seats and to discuss the selection of aldermen in some of the corporations, it has been already agreed the COP will contest seven corporations.