David Abdulah

With concerns growing that the government is moving closer to rolling out Property Tax, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah is proposing that it be done on a phased basis starting with the wealthy. Speaking at the MSJ’s virtual press conference yesterday, Abdulah wants government to consider a wealth tax.

Abdulah said people ought to pay land and building tax but what they are still not certain about is the basis of property valuation and the rate of tax on properties that will be revalued.

He noted that it is unfortunate that it is happening during a pandemic when people and small and medium business owners are struggling.

“Our view is that we really should have taxes on the wealthy, on those who have lots of property. There are a few people in the country who own plenty of property and they are not paying their fair share of taxes because they are only paying the same 25 per cent on their income that other people are paying…So we need to start off taxing large corporations on their land and buildings and so on and taxing the wealthy on their mega-million dollar homes. Some of them have island homes, some of them have their normal homes, Some of them have estates.

“Well, yes those mega-wealthy persons ought to paying on those properties. Let us start off with them and then come down to others over a period of time.”

Asked about his views on the Budget, which will be read on October 4, and on how the government could earn revenue in a pandemic and economic hardships, Abdulah said it will be difficult for the Government to earn additional revenue outside of collecting taxes from those who are not paying taxes at all, but who ought to be in the tax net.

He added: “We need to make sure that every person who is supposed to be a taxpayer is taxed.

“The Government may need to look at a wealth tax as is being proposed for example in places like the United States and elsewhere so we may have to look at wealth tax.”

Abdulah added that if the government moves to close the loopholes in which he claimed multinational companies are ripping off the country through transferred pricing, that may also assist in closing the fiscal gap.

Meanwhile, the MSJ leader has called for a review by Parliament of the constitutional process used by the Police Service Commission in appointing a Commissioner of Police and the powers of the PSC.

Noting that this will require the Opposition’s support, he said: “We are calling on the government and opposition to sit down and review the whole process of appointment of the Commissioner of Police and the powers of the Police Service Commission and of the Commissioner in that regard.”