Town Councils and NDCs are stagnated by lack of finance owing to poor rate collection. Councillors seem unable to come up with innovative ways to collect rates. The valuation of properties is another setback; in some areas properties have not been revalued for years so the rates assessed are not a true reflection of the value and it is on this issue I would like to put a proposal for the consideration of the government and opposition political parties, but before that let me present a scenario.
There are two neighbours living in a rural area, both working with the same company earning the same rate of pay per day. One goes to work every day and is dedicated to his job; he takes good care of his family, is always doing something to enhance his living standard, builds a nice house, plants a kitchen garden and flowers, cleans his drain, keeps his environment clean and pays the garbage truck to remove his garbage.
The other drinks and smokes, goes to work when he feels like it, has a small house, his yard is overgrown with bushes, he does not clean his drain and depends on the NDC to do so. The government has to provide uniforms and books for his children. He dumps the garbage on the street and burns it, the cans and bottles go into the drain.
The law as it stands now compensates the second one and penalises the first one, for when valuation is done the property of the first is assessed higher and consequently he will have to pay a greater amount as rates and taxes than the second.
The one who is a liability to the state and the NDC pays little or nothing; the one who does not require the NDC to do anything has to pay, he is penalised for keeping his place nice and clean. Is it a fair system?
This system was fair when it was instituted but the present conditions make it unfair. Everyone has an opportunity to own a house and enhance their living standard. Work is available for those who want to work, interest rates are low, poverty now is of one’s own creation.
With this in mind and the problem in getting valuations done I humbly propose the following:
Valuation should be done on a settlement/village/scheme/ward basis based on the physical infrastructure and public amenities such as the quality of road – asphalt, chip seal, loam – drainage, electricity, water treated and untreated – telephone, playground, present within the area. Based on the type and quality of infrastructure and amenities a uniform rate for every property in a particular scheme etc, would be fixed. No one can cry discrimination. Businesses, workshops and other commercial activity would attract a different rate based on the type of activity. Rates could be increased by a certain percent annually or bi-annually. Also, as schemes etc, benefit from an upgrade of infrastructure the rates would be adjusted accordingly.
This will avoid discrepancies with respect to the valuation of properties and will not cause town councils and NDCs to suffer due to the inability to have valuations done.
I trust that the Ministry of Regional Development and the political opposition will consider these proposals as a solution to the valuation of properties, for it is more uniform and less costly.