10 Mar Prosperity Delayed by New Tax Package
The Opposition, People’s National Party (PNP), deems the $13.52Billion tax package tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday by the Minister of Finance Audley Shaw as unconscionable and a betrayal of the trust the people of Jamaica placed in their Government. Though warned that their election promise of a $1.5 million tax break was not feasible and would cost Jamaicans nearly $30 billion, the Government convinced Jamaicans that they could deliver. Even when the reality hit the government that this proposal was unworkable, they still carried on with an amended version which has resulted in Jamaicans paying nearly $30 billion in taxes over two years. According to Opposition Spokesman on Finance Dr. Peter Phillips “While the Government has committed to reducing interest rates and reducing the debt, which is a continuation of the last administration’s policy, this new tax package will unleash unnecessary and brutal hardships on the people of Jamaica and will only move people from poverty to worsened poverty”. He said the most vulnerable in the society would be hardest hit and calls on the Government to reconsider the imposition of these new taxes.
The Opposition is convinced that the imposition of GCT on Group Health Insurance will put additional burden on the already broken Health Sector and the poor who are already unable to afford quality health care will have to pay more in a worsened system. This coupled with the imminent Pension reform (though Pension reform is necessary), will have a devastating effect on some of the most vulnerable in the society. The Special Consumption Tax imposed on fuel will drive the cost of electricity to astronomical heights and critical sectors in the economy such as micro, small and medium sized businesses, which have seen improvements in their bottom line because of lowered fuel costs, will see this gain wiped away by the stroke of the Minister’s pen. Furthermore, the hedge on oil has been removed by the Government so there is no reprieve for unassuming consumers if international oil prices should increase.
Opposition Leader, Portia Simpson Miller says she is “pleading with the Government to reverse this new unbearable tax package for only then will Jamaicans truly begin to receive a tax break”.