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#BudgetDebate2018: Shaw's 'no new taxes' three budgets late, says Golding

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Spokesman on Finance Mark Golding, in his contribution to the 2018/19 budget debate, has described Finance Minister Audley Shaw's promise of no new taxes as “three budgets late” and that the Government is fully responsible for this delay.

Golding told the House of Representatives today that Jamaica was already on a trajectory to arrive at no new taxes from 2016.

“The reason why you had to introduce $13 billion of new taxes in 2016 was to pay for your '1.5 [tax break]'. Otherwise, there would have been no new taxes in 2016. The only taxes imposed in 2017 were to pay for the second phase of the '1.5',” Golding argued.

“It is particularly painful that those who bought into the announcement of the so-called “$1.5 million [tax break]” and the promise of $18,000 per month in extra cash in their pockets are now facing the harsh reality,” Golding further stated.

He added that the political propaganda at the time was that there would be no additional taxes to pay for it.

“The Government's two budgets before this one, imposing over $30 billion in new taxes, have shown that this was a false promise and fake news.

The minister of finance last Thursday denied that the “1.5” was sold to the Jamaican people on the basis that there would be no new taxes to pay for it,” the opposition spokesman stated.

In support of his argument, the St Andrew South Member of Parliament cited a Jamaica Labour Party advertisement from the last general election that he claimed “mashes down that lie”.

“It said that “we can afford it”, and the increase in the income tax threshold to $1.5 million could be done “without any new taxes” – indeed those words are highlighted in gold print. Had the Jamaican people not been hoodwinked by that deception, had they realised that the JLP had not thought the “1.5” tax plan through and that it would in fact cost ordinary Jamaicans an additional $30 billion in new taxes on consumers, it would have been rejected,” argued Golding.

There was no mention, according to Golding, of any shift in policy from direct to indirect taxation.

“In fact, it was costed in their propaganda at $12.5 billion. They even itemised how it was to be paid for, all of which the people now know was a scam.

The rationalisation that came after the 2016 general elections has been that the “1.5” represents a deliberate policy of shifting to indirect taxation from direct taxation on incomes. However, in a society like Jamaica where incomes and wealth are so unevenly distributed, this tax policy worsens the inequities, the fabric of our stressed society, and imposes a social injustice on the majority of the Jamaican people,” Golding maintained.

Moya Hinds

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