Wednesday 6th November 2019
The National Federation Party says the Minister for Local Government has displayed sheer arrogance and dictatorial attitude by trying to impose their will on ratepayers and citizens of municipalities and playing the blame game.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad said Premila Kumar is deciding what is best for ratepayers and citizens through their Administrators of municipalities which have not had elections for 11 years.
“Mrs Kumar wants to increase town and city rates claiming they haven’t been increased for many years. She also announced that the positions of Town Clerk, Director Engineering and Director Health will be scrapped”.
“Both these actions will be a huge burden on ratepayers who are already cash-strapped because of exorbitant cost of living and rising fines, fees and charges associated with utilities as well as cost of doing business”.
“The Minister claims that rates have not been increased for many years. This is grossly misleading”.
“Rates increased in 2011 through increase in VAT by 2.5% to 15%. A year later Unimproved Capital Value of Land increased thereby automatically raising rates by as much as 25%”.
“Mrs Kumar has conveniently forgotten her own observation on this issue as Chief Executive of the Consumer Council 8 years ago”.
“In her Report contained in the Council’s 2011 Annual Report, she said the Council was shocked at how even municipal councils took advantage of the VAT increase to unfairly increase rates unfairly”.
“In the same Report, she highlights unfair rate increases as one of the investigations conducted by the Council”.
“Therefore how can the Minister now claim that rates haven’t increased for many years? We have seen that even the reduction in the rate of VAT by 6% to 9% has not reduced rates significantly to wipe out the significant hike almost 8 years ago”.
“Furthermore her decision to scrap key positions of Town Clerk, Director Engineering and Director Health is taking away the core function of municipal Councils”.
“It will basically mean that all critical functions performed by these post holders will be remotely controlled from
“It also means that ratepayers will be denied direct access to these critical services provided by municipal councils and be forced to deal with junior level officers who will not have the mandate to resolve their issues”.
“Engineering deals with town planning, building, construction and many other important aspects. This move will delay approvals, for example for building permits”.
“It will also have a severe impact on our already worse Ease of doing Business rankings by exacerbating red tape and bureaucracy instead of eradicating them”.
“This is dictatorship at its worst”.
Hon. Prof Biman Prasad
Leader of NFP