Can we bring legal action against the gas tax?

Letters to the Editor

Can we bring legal action against the gas tax?

Thursday, August 09, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I am in full agreement with the Opposition's call for the removal of the tax on fuel first levied by the Portia Simpson Miller-led Government to finance an oil hedge.

There is something immoral about collecting a tax for an oil hedge that is no longer in existence. It is not too different from the naming of a highway in honour of the person who opposed its construction.

The immorality of the action is accentuated when the tax, said to be $7 per litre, is proving to be a burden on taxpayers as a contributing factor to our record-high petrol prices.

To add insult to injury, Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke showed no empathy for beleaguered motorists and other users of petrol and other oil-based products when he announced the tax would not be removed.

The announcement that the tax will remain would have come across better if the minister had first acknowledged the challenges faced by the motoring public as a consequence of record-high petrol prices before giving reasons for the Government's decision.

This is not the first time a specific tax is diverted to be used for everything but the specified purpose. The misnomer Education Tax comes readily to mind.

I wonder if one of our legal luminaries would care to advise if a legal challenge could be mounted to prevent misuse of a specific tax?

Do matters of this nature fall within the remit of the public defender, the National Consumers' League, or even Jamaicans for Justice?

We need to take a page from the book of our Caribbean neighbour Haiti, where the prime minister was recently forced from office following days of violent protests over a plan to raise prices on fuel.

Our protests do not have to be violent, but the Government needs a wake-up call.

Wayne Plummer

Greater Portmore

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