Strong condemnation of the proposed Property Tax from the Independent and Opposition in the Parliament yesterday, with a plea to Government to reconsider implementation of the tax, which has been deemed “a brutal tax on the most vulnerable in society.” But the Government sought to debunk the notion that the tax is harsh saying those who cannot pay will not be forced to do so. As debate on the tax continued in the Senate yesterday, Independent Senator Melissa Ramkissoon expressed concern that many home owners may be “asset rich and cash poor,” those persons, she said, may have inherited big properties with a house, but do not have the wherewithal to pay the tax. Ramkissoon argued that the tax was “not necessary at this time and an increased tax rate can be viewed as oppressive.” Section 23-1 of the Act makes provision for deferral of the payment of the tax on the grounds of ‘impoverished condition of the owner and his inability to improve his financial position significantly by reason of age, impaired health or other special circumstances.” To benefit from the deferral an application must be made in writing in a prescribed form and accompanied by evidence that the person is in receipt of a public assistance grant, a disability grant, a senior citizen’s pension or a T&T conditional cash transfer card from the Sate or does not receive an annual income exceeding the maximum amount specified in section 3 of the Senior Citizens’ Pension Act. Opposition Senator Saddam Hussein queried the reason for “subjecting our pensioners to red tape and bureaucracy,” after having worked hard all their lives. Hussein lamented: “This Government has no heart, there was one Hart they knew and that is what got them out of office.” He also raised concern about the retroactive factor of the Property Tax saying there had been mixed signals from the Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, who announced in Parliament that the tax would be retroactive to 2016 and the Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West who told the American Chamber that valuations were not competed for those years so there would be no assessment. Hussein accused the Government of “making policy on the floor of the Parliament without consultation, voops, vaps and vikey vie,” he said. He sought clarity on whether the tax would be retroactive saying as someone who would be directly affected he may have to seek redress from the yet to be set up Valuations Tribunal. Government Senator Nigel De Freitas sought to reassure the Senate that “no one in this country, unable to pay, would be forced to pay,” but he said the tax is “urgent and necessary.” Questioned by Senator Sophia Chote about whether it was a “waiver” and not a “deferral” De Fritas said the idea was to ensure that there is “no leakage,” so that every two years there would be a reassessment.