MSJ: Property tax, politics behind local government election delay

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Movement for Social Justice political leader David Abdulah.

MOVEMENT for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah said the decision to postpone local government elections and extend the life of local government corporations was based on property tax and politics.

He expressed this view during a virtual news conference on Sunday.

On Thursday, Rural Development and Local GovernmentMinister Faris Al-Rawi announced that the term of all councillors and aldermen will end on December 3, 2023.

He said the extra year provides time for the rollout of the local government reform package.

However, Abdulah said the delaying of the local government election was “an attack and affront on democracy.” He believes the main reason for the decision was to give the Government an opportunity to implement the collection of residential property taxes.

This, he said, would give central government additional revenue for its projects before an election is held. He also said while regional corporations will benefit from the collection of taxes, he was of the opinion there was a political dimension to the decision. Abdulah said PNM-controlled corporations could use the revenue “to shore up electoral possibilities.”

This, he also added, could ensure they keep certain districts under its political control or gain political territory currently in the hands of the Opposition UNC.

Abdulah said it would be better to hold the election by March 2023, when it was originally due, and then implement measures of reform.