Minister for Local Government, Housing and Community Development Premila Kumar says municipals councils will no longer provide amnesty periods for those ratepayers who owe the council their dues.
Speaking to the Special Administrators during a forum in Lami today, Minister Kumar says the amnesty period does not bring any benefit to those ratepayers who are up to date with their dues.
“The law clearly specifies the actions municipal councils can take. I look forward to examining your outstanding rates collection strategy as all municipal councils have large amounts of outstanding rates,” Minister Kumar said.
Minister Kumar adds some councils such as Suva and Lautoka are being owed in millions of dollars and setting up an amnesty period means an easy getaway for those who do not pay their rates on time.
“Our main aim for municipal council is to make your councils financially sustainable. Your revenue should exceed expenditure. We need to create a level of playing field for all ratepayers and I think it has always been easy just to declare an amnesty period,” she said.
The municipal councils are also undertaking a rate profiling exercise that will assist the council to understand and respond to the needs of the ratepayers better.
“Ratepayers, you got to pay your rates. I can assure you as a minister that I will refuse to take any more papers to Cabinet for any approval in such areas”
Meanwhile, from 2020, municipal councils will also be carrying out the valuation exercises.
“This valuation exercise should be undertaken for even six years. There are certain municipal councils where rates haven’t been increased for the last 20 years,” she said.