– as amnesty comes to an end
Government and several reputable businesses have been listed among the defaulters that are yet to fully honour their civic obligation with the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC).
And according to information emanating from the municipality, Central Government owes in excess of $30M, representing the payment of rates and taxes for the last quarter of this year, which was due and payable on October 30 last.
It was since the commencement of last month that it was recognised that the municipality was facing a near $400M shortfall, a state of affairs which prompted the municipality to engage an amnesty programme which was geared at enticing defaulting rate payers to pay up without the added stress of paying accumulated interest.
There was a significant response to the programme which commenced on October 15, last, said Public Relations Officer, Royston King, yesterday. The programme is set to conclude today but the result is nowhere close to achieving the anticipated result.
King said that it was expected that the amnesty programme would have seen the municipality recovering at least 50 percent of the shortfall. A mere $54M has so far been recovered. However, King is yet optimistic that the final day (today) of the amnesty will see a marked increase in the revenue collection programme.
“I am hoping that all rate payers that have outstanding payments, especially large reputable businesses, will come in and liquidate their debts with City Hall.” And in anticipation of adherence, the municipality has put measures in place to ensure that persons desirous of taking advantage of the amnesty today will be able to do so with the shortest possible waiting time.
“We anticipate that during the day people will seize the opportunity…so we have worked out an arrangement so that persons would not have to wait for too long. We have done this so that people can come in and do their business and return to their other daily activities.”
The much-needed funds, King said, will enable the municipality to fulfil its mandate to deal with solid waste management, improve the drainage integrity of the city, increase its policing capacity, pay staffers and contractors and meet its other financial expenditures.
Meanwhile, plans are apace to introduce new measures at the commencement of the New Year to help improve the revenue collection of the municipality. The measures which come as part of the recommendations of the municipality’s Implementation Committee will entail the establishment of a database to monitor the operation of businesses within the confine of the city, according to Deputy Mayor, Robert Williams.
In fact, he revealed that the property on which businesses such as salons, barber shops, food and liquor restaurants and the like, that require permission to operate, must first be cleared of property taxes before they can become eligible for a business license.
“The property on which these businesses are being carried out would have to first be cleared of property taxes. So if you are renting a property from an individual property owner whose taxes are not up to date that tax will have to be paid up before you get the permission or a license to operate,” he revealed.
In addition, council will enforce stringent measures to ensure the payment of property taxes before any construction or expansion of any property in the city is undertaken, Williams added.
He explained that if an individual applies for permission to undertake any form of construction, that person will first have to ensure that the payment of taxes for that property is honoured.
Further, the municipality is seeking to prevent properties from being transferred to another person if the property taxes are not paid in full.
“It is a series of initiatives that we are taking to bring in much needed funds…” Williams ascertained. Notwithstanding, he revealed that action is being engaged to take a judicial approach to address the problem of non-payment.
Some 15 property owners are currently being targeted by the municipality. They are likely to be placed before the courts shortly, he added.
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