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The Opposition notes the recent report coming out of the United States America indicating the tabling of a bill sponsored by Republican Mike D. Rogers, entitled The Border Wall Funding Act of 2017, which is intended to amend the current Electronic Transfer Act.

The implications of this Bill, if passed, on countries like Jamaica are quite damning when one considers that remittances account for a significant source of revenue for countries in this region.

Whereas, some members of the diaspora have indicated that there might not be any opposition to this possible tax, we note that this may have very serious implications for Jamaicans who depend on remittances. Invariably, this will lead to a reduction in remittances, which will no doubt have a negative impact on our economies.

Consider that 2% of 2 billion United States Dollars is 40 Million USD or just over 5.1 Billion Jamaican Dollars. In noting this announcement and having regard to the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 which declares that it is U.S. policy to increase engagement with the governments of the Caribbean region, including the private sector, and with civil society in both the United States and the Caribbean in an efforts to diversify and strengthen their economies, one would therefore have to question the impact of this proposal on the Act and its explicit intent of support to the region.

As such, the Opposition is obligated to call on the Government of Jamaica to act expeditiously in opening the diplomatic channel with neighbouring CARICOM partners with the aim of lobbying the USA Government and Congress to reconsider the current proposal, which is now making its way through the US Congress. Enacted as written would have a devastating effect on Jamaica’s economy. Further, through direct Channels with the USA Jamaica and our CARICOM partners should seek clarifications on how this will impact the “USA/CARICOM Relations” where the USA enjoys a favorable Trade Balance.

It seems inappropriate that the requirements of funding to build a border wall between the USA and Mexico would fall on the backs of the poor here in Jamaica and throughout the region.

In light of this, we believe it may be necessary for the GOJ to solicit the support of our friends in Congress as well as taking steps to galvanize the diaspora to lobby congress to stop the passage of this Bill.