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Why tax fish and not fowl?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dear Editor,

It is looking like ackees and chicken back will very soon become our national dish. We know chicken neck and back have always been favoured by us poor people, but every now and again we squeeze a piece of fish into our diets as an alternative to the primary source of protein.

Often chickens are hatched artificially and fattened by means of all sorts of growth hormones as the poultry business has become such a feasible venture when production is kept at a constant high. These hormones have no positive effects on the human body, and now with the taxation on fish we will be forced to consume even higher doses of these hormones as alternative meats will be far out of the budget of the average Jamaican. Man shall not live by chicken alone!

The broadening of the tax net, as presented by Minister Peter Phillips, includes all raw food (excluding chicken), flavoured milk, condensed milk, corned beef, pickled mackerel, patties, rolled oats, fish, and eggs. It is rather puzzling why chicken was the only exempt raw food from this 16.5 per cent tax. At the moment, a number of cuts of fish share the same price range as chicken back and other chicken parts, which are considered to be the more affordable pieces of meat.

I see no problem taxing high-end foods, but when a simple protein like fish is being taxed and chicken is exempt, this shows unfairness. The well-established local distributors of chicken will get off tax-free while the only local distributor of seafood will be forced to face taxes.

This taxation is far from equitable! The government needs to think this over.

Samuel Francis

Wakefield, Trelawny obiksfrancis@gmail.com

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