Farmers of the Hope Estate are now joining the many cries of citizens across the country to have certain ‘burdensome’ tax measures implemented by the Government, this year, be reversed.
The farmers are decrying the significant increase in rental of lands at the estate, especially when there is poor irrigation leading to numerous floods during the year.
One of the farmers who identified himself only as “Dinesh” told INews earlier today that they they are now being charged $15,000 to rent one acre of land, per year. “Under the PPP, we used to pay $2,000. This Government come in power, we paid $5,000. Okay. Now they want to raise it to $15,000! That’s too much!”
The distressed man said that the present state of the lands is much better than it was years ago, when it was handed to them.
“People spend millions of dollars to build the lands, I spent $2.5M to just cultivate mine. We build up the land, it was low and swampy. Now they want us to pay so much more money.”
Another farmer who preferred not to identify himself for fear of victimisation, said that his expenses are too much. He explained that the cost of fertilisers, chemicals and other necessary farming instruments have increased due to an addition of 14 percent tax.
“The fertilisers, chemicals, everything raise to the max cause tax deh on them now. Then watch how things selling pon the market. Sometimes I gotta sell 100 cucumbers to mek $1000. How I really doing this man? This is too much! The government need to take back this tax off of the land rental,” he said.
Other farmers told INews that on numerous occasions, due to the lack of proper irrigation on the estate, their lands would flood out and destroy acres of crops.
“When the crops gone, it coming out of we pocket. Is we loss. We don’t have insurance for that. We can’t afford it!”
In addition, the frustrated farmers said that when they approached the manager of Hope Estate, he said there was nothing he could do about it, since the tax on land rentals was implemented by the Government since the estate is “broke.”
“Is nah we fault the estate bruk! Since this new administration come into power, the estate done change two managers. We hear is because they used to thief out the money,” one farmer said.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the MMA/ADA Dr Ken Sealey, as well as Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder had said that the yearly land rates currently being paid by farmers would be increased in order for the MMA/ADA to provide the quality of services required.
“There has been no attempt to keep the rates of land rent and the cost of drainage and irrigation or the pay for the cost of drainage and irrigation in line with inflation. The result of that is where MMA used to be a source of income to the government, it’s now taking money out of the government to survive; $ 237M out of the budget for this year. We have to look at raising rates to the proper levels,” Holder had said. (Ramona Luthi)