Municipalities Need to be More Vigilant in Revenue Collection – Minister
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the island’s Municipalities need to be more vigilant in revenue collection, noting that a lot of money has been allowed to fall by the wayside.
Mr. McKenzie, who was speaking at a special meeting of the St. Ann Municipal Corporation in St. Ann’s Bay on May 10, said a classic example is the number of persons doing business with the Municipalities who are not paying trade licences.
“What is a trade licence? Any business that earns in excess of $500,000 a year should pay an annual trade licence fee of $5,000 per year,” the Minister pointed out.
“There was some adjustment to the fees and it went up. I am sure that there is a significant amount of persons doing business in this St. Ann Municipality that are not paying trade licence. I am urging the Mayor and also the Councillors to look at this area of revenue,” he said.
The Minister added that St. Ann has a “large concentration of hotels” and also a large amount of advertising take, “which should be bringing in much-needed revenue.”
Mr. McKenzie said he is of the view that Councillors across the island have allowed complacency to set in as it relates to being more proactive and vigilant, because of the knowledge that the Equalisation Fund is always there to solve problems.
“I say this with passion because… not just here in St. Ann… but right across the country, Councillors or Councils believe that the Equalisation Fund is the answer to the problem of every Municipality,” the Minister added.
He reminded Councillors that the Equalisation Fund represents a percentage of the Parochial Revenue Fund, which, he said, comes from “the licensing of motor vehicles and other motor-vehicle-related matters”.
“Sixty-six and one-third per cent of the revenues from the Parochial Revenue Fund or the Road Maintenance Fund goes to the local authority, and the remaining portion goes to the National Road Fund,” the Minister pointed out.
The Equalisation Fund was created in 1997 and is financed by 10 per cent of the money collected islandwide from property taxes. All 13 Parish Councils are allocated a percentage of the fund to carry out critical infrastructural work in their various divisions.