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#BudgetDebate2019: 'They don't know what they're doing', says Opposition leader

Thursday, March 14, 2019

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Leader Dr Peter Philips has hit back against the Government's $14-billion tax giveback package saying it shows a lack of understanding of the workings of the economy and of the day-to-day realities of ordinary Jamaicans.

Phillips was making his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate a short while ago.

He argued that the budget presented by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke last Thursday is based on an inadequate understanding of what is required to stimulate the levels of growth that Jamaica needs.

The Opposition leader further questioned Clarke's “official narrative” that the country is in the “best of times”, saying that it is in sharp contrast to the reality of most Jamaicans. He further questioned who will be the major benefactors of the tax package.

“Not only is your official narrative out of touch with the people's reality, it is also woefully out of touch with your own growth projections. No matter how you want to nice it up!” he said.

Additionally, Phillips noted that on top of the hardships being faced by the majority of Jamaicans, there is the likelihood that growth will remain “anaemic” as the “epic mismanagement” by the Government has made life even harder for the majority of the people.

“They simply don't know what they are doing,” Phillips stated, adding that road construction across the Corporate Area for example, under the Andrew Holness-led Administration has become an “albatross around the necks of both the travelling public and businesses alike”.

The Opposition leader further mentioned, among other things, inefficiencies at the State-own bus company, Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), bad health services, corruption at State agencies most notably at Petrojam, increase in murders and the mismanagement of the cocoa and sugar sectors.

Phillips' contribution follows that of Opposition Spokesman on Finance Mark Golding, who continued his assault on the Government's $14-billion tax giveback package, describing it as the most regressive tax system in Jamaica in his living memory.

Clarke, in his contribution last Thursday, created a stir in the country when he announced that the Government was “giving back” $14 billion to taxpayers.

The minister said that the Government has decided on a stimulus path on the basis that Jamaica is now in the “best shape” it has been compared to any other period in the last 50 years.

Among the revenue measures that the minister revealed in Parliament, are an increase in the General Consumption Tax (GCT) threshold to $10 million, up from $3 million ($731 million); abolition of the long controversial minimum business tax ($1.093 billion); and the abolition of the asset tax payable by non-financial institutions.

Holness is expected to make his contribution to the Budget Debate next Tuesday.