Mckenzie: Implementation of tax break has silenced Phillips

Mckenzie: Implementation of tax break has silenced Phillips

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

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WAKEFIELD, Trelawny — Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says that Government’s implementation of the promised income tax break last month has forced one of its main critics, former Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, into hibernation.

The tax break, dubbed 1.5, was one of main planks of the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’s) election campaign leading up to its one-seat victory in the February 25 General Election. The party had promised that it would abolish income tax for Pay As You Earn workers earning $1.5 million and less.

Since then, the Administration has tweaked the offer, raising the tax threshold for all PAYE workers to just over $1 million in July, with a further commitment to raise it to $1.5 million as of April 1 next year. The move has received the blessing of the International Monetary Fund, with which the country has an Extended Funding Facility arrangement that ends next year.

On Sunday, McKenzie reminded Labourites at the party’s Wakefield Divisional Conference in this parish that Phillips had consistently preached, before and after the election, that the plan was unworkable.

"I notice from the other day him (Dr Phillips) don’t have anything to say because from the tax thing phase in — because him seh it couldn’t happen — ...I don’t hear him (since) ," McKenzie quipped.

Meanwhile, McKenzie also used the platform to hit back at members of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) who, he said, have wrongfully accused him of witholding funds from the PNP-controlled parish councils to gain advantage in the overdue local government polls.

"I don’t want to talk about the PNP, but I can’t come on a political platform and allow comments that are being made on PNP platform to go by. Almost every weekend dem a beat down Desmond. Desmond! Desmond! Desmond! I am the only thing that the PNP can talk about when they have their conferences over the country," McKenzie said.

"This Jamaica Labour Party, whenever we form Government in Jamaica, we have demonstrated that we are the Government for all Jamaicans," he declared.

The Wakefield Division — one of the five in the Trelawny Northern constituency — has been held by the JLP’s Jonathan Bartley since 2003.

He will be going up against the PNP’s Chris Jobson in the next local government election.

During the general elections in February, the JLP received over 500 more votes than the PNP in the Wakefield Division.

— Horace Hinds

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