Senator: Account for drop in property tax

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Independent Senator Sunity Maharaj – Photo courtesy Parliament

INDEPENDENT Senator Sunity Maharaj on April 22 said someone must explain the reduction in property tax from three to two per cent of rental value of a property. She was speaking in the Senate on Independent Senator Anthony Vieira’s private motion urging an overhaul of the Commissions of Enquiry Act.

“Who is being held accountable? There must be an explanation.”

Maharaj said there must be accountability and transparency, and some action must be taken over the reduction.

She said Trinidad and Tobago’s transition from colony to independence ought to be about taking responsibility and delivering justice.

On the current public meetings on constitutional reform, she said before the subsequent public consultations, there should be an examination of why all the other past efforts at constitutional reform had failed.

Maharaj said TT now needed a bottom-up system of governance, rather than the top-down system of colonial times. She said various interests in this society should take control of the process of examining governance, arguing, “There are no great, wise men or women.”

The massive sums spent on CoEs should instead be spent to fund “sustainable points of accountability” within the public sector, she said.

“Power has to see themselves as accountable to the people. There will be no privileged elite.”

She said while the motion seeks a more efficient public inquiry process, the public needs information at every level of governance.

Maharaj urged a new culture of accountability and transparency in the public sector, such that employees would not be afraid of getting fired for doing their jobs honestly.

She urged, “a reconstruction of the State,” anchored in individuals having a respect for accountability.

The CoE ought to simply exist at the apex of an ongoing system of inquiry, she said. At every level of the governance system ought to be opportunities for accountability, transparency and justice.

Maharaj said at present CoEs were set up during moments of great public anguish, but after the lengthy time to be run they just ended up giving the public the satisfaction of seeing the mighty fall.

“That is not a functional way of governing a country,” she said.