'Backra attitude'

'Backra attitude'

Clarke says PNP's claim it is responsible for current projects absurd

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, August 15, 2020

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CAMPAIGN spokesman for the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Dr Nigel Clarke yesterday shot down arguments that the Government is taking credit for work done by the previous People's National Party (PNP) Administration.

“That is absurd,” Clarke said in response to a question posed by the Jamaica Observer moments after a virtual press conference held at the JLP's Belmont Road headquarters in St Andrew.

“The JLP crafted five budgets which reflected the JLP's policy priorities and were designed to achieve the designed results. It's the arrogance of the PNP to try to claim another person's work. That's a backra attitude to take credit for someone else's work,” Clarke added.

His comments sought to put to rest sustained claims by the Opposition party and its supporters that the Government's redevelopment of Constant Spring and Hagley Park roads, Mandela Highway, and Three Miles overpass, among other things, are as a result of the PNP.

The arguments have long been that the Andrew Holness-led Administration has been cutting ribbons it did not tie, including deals brokered for the redevelopment of the aforementioned thoroughfares and a stable economy through a largely successful International Monetary Fund economic reform programme.

But Clarke poured cold water on the claims, touting his party as the one with vision as it seeks a second term in a general election scheduled for September 3.

“If it was their work, why do we have a budget debate? On the contrary, they are on record saying what we have achieved couldn't work. They said the 1.5 [million dollars] tax plan couldn't work. They said the highway projects couldn't be done at the same time.

“They didn't have the creativity to think of the innovative things we have — things never before contemplated for Jamaica,” the finance minister said.

Speaking at the press conference last evening, Clarke said the current Government's record is strong and as a result the country will recover stronger, referencing the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, he pointed to a number of “achievements” by the Administration, including an unbroken stretch of 14 quarters of growth, a feat he said no other Government has achieved in the last 25 years.

Unemployment, he said, in the current term has been at a record low as the number of people employed in the country rose to the highest level ever, 1.2 million, as at January 2020.

Clarke said for the past four years inflation has been low and stable, while poverty declined by 40 per cent.

“We increased the income tax threshold to $1.5 million when many said that it could not be done. By increasing the threshold to $1.5 million, what it means is that 80 per cent of those who are on PAYE no longer pay income tax. That's over 400,000 people, due to the policies of this Administration,” said Clarke.

Added to that, he mentioned the move by the Government to “relieve persons of the General Consumption Tax burden” by reducing it by 1.5 percentage points — from 16 per cent to 15 per cent.

“This is the first time that the rate of GCT is being decreased without, at the same time, increasing other taxes. So we would have gone through the financial year 20/21 with no new taxes. Even in the face of a pandemic, there were no new taxes,” he noted.

“...Across the breadth of the economy, infrastructure, gender, public services, health, education, security, transportation, and mining our record is strong and we will recover stronger,” he added.

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