The article ‘Mayor Unhappy with Low Property Tax Compliance’ in Tuesday’s Gleaner raises some serious concerns.
Per the Mayor of Montego Bay, Charles Sinclair, residents’ property taxes are sent to the central government’s Consolidated Fund. Then the various Local Governments, through the Parish Council, apply for disbursements from the Consolidated Fund to fix roads, etc. This is a massive corruption of good governance principles.
I think eighty (80) percent of local taxes should stay in the Parish or town/community in which it was collected. The remaining 20 percent should be put into something like the Equalization Fund for providing infrastructure assistance to poorer towns/communities. It would then be the responsibility of the residents of each area to hold their local government accountable for the collection and judicious use of these funds.
A casual trip anywhere in Jamaica will reveal the terrible state of public infrastructure. Recently, TVJ’s Prime Time News carried a report about a section of local road in Bog Walk that collapsed into a nearby river. The MP for the constituency complained that she had reported the issue to the NWA. The road would be repaired on the NWA’s schedule.
Why should such a pressing local matter be held hostage to the Central Government’s list of priorities? A taxi driver, workers, business people, or school children affected by the road collapse in Bog Walk couldn’t care less in the need to fix a road in Hanover, or in Portland.
Let local taxes stay in the community/Parish. Local governments must retain this funding to deal with their responsibility to improve the infrastructure and provide excellent services for residents.