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Opposition Leader quits property tax select committee

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The select committee of Parliament discussing draft legislation for the new property tax regime will not longer receive input from Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace.{{more}}

Eustace announced on Thursday that he did not attend a meeting of the committee that day and will not attend its future gatherings.

He said on a New Democratic Party (NDP) radio programme that he was not sure if the committee had changed a provision, which, if it becomes law, will allow the government to sell a property for the amount of money owed in outstanding taxes.

Eustace had said earlier this month that he objects to the proposed provision. He said it would allow the government to collect outstanding revenue, but would not provide for property owners’ commitments to financiers.

“I am not going back to that particular select committee if it continues, because that law is going to be very problematic for this country at this particular time,” Eustace said.

“We recognise the need to raise revenue, but you have to look at the source that you are tackling at this time,” he said.

He further said that his decision to quit the committee might not make much difference.

“You can present views ‘til you’re sick. The government doesn’t have to accept them. In the bulk of cases, they will not accept,” Eustace said.

“Let me put it this way, when [Prime Minister Dr Ralph] Gonsalves was in opposition, he never attended any select committee because he doesn’t want to be there when amendments are made and so on, so he could come in the parliament and say this and say that and ‘I wasn’t there’,” Eustace further said.

The 2012 budget hopes to raise $6 million in property taxes, up from $2.7 million last year. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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