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JTUM leader Ancel Roget.

Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) president, Ancel Roget says if Government imposes property taxes on citizens at the height of a pandemic, it could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, Roget accused the Government of imposing “Taliban-like” measures against citizens.

Roget accused Government ministers of living high off the perks of their offices while ignoring the plight of ordinary citizens.

He said the average man is struggling to survive during the pandemic when many have lost their jobs, food prices are increasing and the cost of living has gone up.

“They have all kinds of allowances, different allowances in their monthly income, some of them don’t even purchase gasoline and fuel at the pumps, tax-free and duty-free and they are allowed to purchase vehicles while you the ordinary man, who gave them the job to make life easier for you, to improve the quality and standard of living, they are imposing hardship on you.”

He said the extension of the State of Emergency was done without cause and with the implementation of property tax looming, citizens cannot protest.

Roget said the Government was seeking to make up for the financial shortfall of their mismanagement of the economy and the energy sector.

He vowed to host a separate press conference to speak on the National Gas Company (NGC) debacle.

Roget said the Government was “testing the waters” by trying to gauge how the population will react to property tax.

He said if the public remains quiet, hell will be their fate. He said those who rent will not be exempt from the impact of property tax, as the cost is bound to be passed on from their landlords.

“They are coming to squeeze blood out of stone… how much more are we prepared to accept before we stand up and say, enough is enough? This property tax may well be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

Roget said the property tax should be implemented on a phased approach- with consideration given to exempting residential property owners.

“We have always advocated that there should be a phased approach with this property tax arrangement, we should not put pressure on residential property that is not earning any revenue, my property doesn’t earn any revenue…there should be a phased approach as to how we phase this in with industrial and so on, those that earn revenue and then commercial, you do not put all of our citizens, the majority of our citizens into this net at the same time,” he said.

The labour leader also called on the Government to defer the implementation of property tax at this time, saying, “There couldn’t be a more difficult time and it is relative to everybody and in any situation where cost is being passed on and evidently it will land on the backs and shoulders of citizens because of that, we are saying it is the wrong time for its implementation, let’s defer this and let the country be able to catch itself and breathe again.”