Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 11th 2013 Contents On Monday, the other shoe
fell on the long-discussed
issue of property tax.
Minister of Finance Larry Howai
announced in his budget pres-
entation that land and building
taxes would return.
In the first phase, set for
implementation by July 1, 2014,
taxes will come due on industri-
al lands and buildings; then
taxes on commercial properties
will be assessed and levied; and
in Phase 3---the most delicate
sector---taxes on agricultural
lands and residential properties
will be assessed and applied.
As the Finance Minister
noted, "A land and building tax
regime is a key pillar in all
modern tax systems," but in all
successful implementations of
such taxation systems, the
methods of assessment and val-
uation are clearly understood by
Clouding this rather straight-
forward matter is the business
of politics and in particular, the
heated campaign to "axe the
tax" which was waged when the
PNM Government sought to
overhaul the existing process.
Clearly, it was a system which
was in need of overhaul, with
taxes being levied on buildings
that bore no relationship to
their current market value.
But through the exigencies of
political posturing, what hap-
pened was neither an orderly
and sensible revision of the land
and building tax regimen nor a
continuation of the prior, wholly
Instead, the tax was frozen in
2010, costing the government
millions in revenue that it needs
to support increasingly costly
The rivals of the People s
Partnership Government are
now excoriating it for reversing
its 2010 decision and reneging
on an assumed promise to abol-
ish land and building taxes. In
this heated mix, the public has
become rightly concerned about
how the return of this taxation
regime would hit their pockets.
By taking a measured
approach to managing the
return of a land and building
tax to T&T, the government has
cooled such tensions and creat-
ed an environment in which it
will be possible to craft trans-
parent systems for property
evaluation and to consult with
the public fully about its plans
for the new tax regime.
It was unreasonable for any-
one to assume that a political
effort to halt the previous gov-
ernment s rushed effort at revis-
ing property taxes necessarily
translated into a commitment to
abolish such taxes entirely.
And while it is true to say
that the tax will be reintroduced
at the old rates, those rates will
be calculated on the basis of
But the return of the tax,
though unpopular, is inevitable.
Land and building taxes are a
critical component in funding
the development of any proper
civil society, and the return of a
fairly implemented and clearly
understood tax on property
holdings should be a part of the
government s revenue-collection
Critical to these measures, it
can be agreed, is the need for,
as Mr Howai described it, a
"proper valuation of properties
within a transparent framework."
In order to avert the return of
protests against the tax, the
government must now do as it
has promised and develop a
land and building tax regime
that wins the understanding and
engagement of the public.
No getting away from property tax
But the return of the tax, though unpopular, is inevitable. Land and building
taxes are a critical component in funding the development of any proper civil so-
ciety, and the return of a fairly implemented and clearly understood tax on prop-
erty holdings should be a part of the government's revenue-collection portfolio.
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Teenagers in England who fail to
achieve at least a grade C in English
and math GCSEs will have to continue
studying the subjects from this term.
It means hundreds of thousands of
youngsters in school and college will
have to carry on with the subjects
until the age of 18. Employers have
warned that young people need to
improve these skills.
Education Secretary Michael Gove
said the subjects were the ones
"employers demand before all others."
Up until now, pupils have been able
to drop the subjects at the age of 16
without having gained a qualification
in them. Many would never study
these subjects again, prompting
concerns from employers'
organisations that too many young
people lack literacy and numeracy
skills necessary for work.
Last year, there were more than a
quarter of a million 19-year-olds
without a C grade in English and math.
Teenagers who missed C grades will
either re-take GCSEs in maths and
English, or else there will be an option
to take other types of maths and
English lessons. But they will be
required to continue studying the
Skills minister Matthew Hancock
said the requirement to keep studying
English and math was not about re-
sitting exams but about continuing to
develop these essential skills.
"For those who fail to get a C at
GCSE, it's a huge impairment to their
future life, their ability to participate
not just in work but also as a citizen,"
Joy Mercer, director of policy at the
Association of Colleges, said further
education colleges would need an
extra 2,100 experienced teachers.
"Young people, who have often tried
to succeed at math and English more
than once, need the most experienced
teachers to motivate them, not those
who have just left a university course,"
she said. (BBC)
SOUND-OFF: Do the math...or else
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