Car loans, mortgages, stamp duties and the confirmation of deeds in Tobago are now at a stand still as the machine necessary to authorize these documents has been non-functional for almost a month.
Attorney at Law Deborah Moore Miggins held an emergency press conference on the matter last Friday at her chambers, noting that the only alternative is for her staff to travel to Trinidad to ensure commercial transactions are completed in a timely manner.
"These things really adversely affect anybody who is practicing and doing business here. Clients are clamoring for their deeds, some lawyers I think have resorted to the solution of paying their way to Trinidad every week, to register these documents," Moore- Miggins said.
One senior official at Inland Revenue Tobago, who wished not to be named, confirmed the machine is out of service and is in Trinidad under repairs. The machine is necessary for the finalization of stamp of approvals, thereby authorizing documents. The only operational facility for such services at the moment is located at Inland Revenue Port of Spain.
"Because bill of sales are those documents that people have to sign when they get a car loan, and car loans are being granted on a daily basis, plenty of them, and we cannot tolerate this in Tobago. These documents are now delayed, in light of the machine being out of service," Moore-Miggins said.
This is not the only problem troubling this lawyer, as there is only one Commissioner of Affidavit in Tobago, while the necessary complement is approximately four. She also raised the controversial issue of land title. A committee was instituted in 2011 by Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadar, headed by the Minister of Tobago Development Vernella Alleyne- Toppin.
On March 1, THA Chief Secretary Orville London wrote the Legal Affairs Minister, requesting a status on the controversial issue. Approximately 15 meetings have been held since the committee was formed, but since July of last year, Moore Miggins has not received word on the way forward. She claimed an interim report was developed by the committee.
"We still are in limbo, people are still frustrated. We still are having a plethora of claims and counter claim and uncertainty. People cannot go to the bank to get loans to build their houses. It's just frustration all around," Moore- Miggins said.
Calls to Mrs. Alleyne- Toppin phone have not been returned. When contacted, Chairman of Inland Revenue Deokie Hossein said she is aware of the problem existing in Tobago and San Fernando but her hands are tied on the matter.
"The machines as well as the present laws are outdated and the necessary legislature needs to be passed in Parliament, for Inland Revenue to enact the necessary changes," she said.
She is today hopeful, with the passing of the Finance Bill, present problems will be a thing of the past.