Chairman of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council’s Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke does not believe that there will be political fallout as a result of increased taxation on businesses and residents in the municipality.
Political Scientist Freddie Kissoon agrees that the City needs increased revenue, but reasons that the APNU+AFC coalition is already losing political support on the ground because the proposed 10 percent across-the board hike in rates and taxes valuation list does not take cater for those who cannot afford to pay much more. “The increase in taxes cannot be across-the-board for the fact that you have to take into consideration different types of socio-economic groups, for example South Georgetown…that should always be the approach of government that you cannot lump the rich and the lower class and the middle class together,” he said.
Clarke said the across-the-board rate hike, which would form part of the 2017 City Budget, would not include new and improved properties whose market values are being determined by the Ministry of Finance’s Valuation Division.
With the last property valuation dating back to 1996, Clarke defended the across-the-board method, saying that each property owner would be bearing the same weight. He does not expect the APNU+AFC coalition to lose political support as a result of increased property taxes and the parking meters. “Not really! We are talking about next year’s rates,” he said, adding that he disagrees that parking meters will not affect every citizen. “What we have to do is to make the parking meter cost more amenable to the people who have to bear the cost.”
Clarke brushed off suggestions that the increase in existing taxes and the introduction of new ones would push up the cost of goods and services. “We had a meeting with the merchants and we told that that you don’t pass on everything to people. They make whopping profits. I think we have to appeal to them for a social conscience,” said Clarke who is also General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the major party in the coalition.
Saying that the Council lacks visionary and competent leaders, Political Scientist Kissoon forecast that due to the various forms of taxes that have greeted ordinary Guyanese since the APNU+AFC coalition was voted into office last year May. “I do believe analytically that if a Local Government Election is called in Georgetown tomorrow, the governing coalition would lose badly if you have a very credible alternative,” said Kissoon who campaigned for the coalition in last year’s general elections.
President David Granger has already said that he would like to see municipalities become self-sustaining and run like a business corporation.