Shaw says barrel fee hike unconscionable
OPPOSITION Spokesperson on Finance Audley Shaw has called for the rollback, or at worst a delay, of a 30 per cent hike in Customs fees to clear barrels with personal effects, likening the increase to a tax on "hurricane recovery".
On Wednesday the Jamaica Customs Department announced that the new flat rate for barrels with such goods would move from $5,000 to $6,500. The previous rate had been in effect since December 2009.
According to Shaw, the increase came at a most inopportune time, considering Hurricane Sandy's negative impact on many households. The storm battered the island last Wednesday, flattening many homes.
"It is unconscionable that just days after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the Customs Department would make such a move. Barrels such as the ones in question are sent by family members overseas to locals to augment their subsistence, and to tax that shows that the minister of finance is not cognisant of the suffering many Jamaicans are currently experiencing," he said in a release.
He said that persons in parishes such as St Thomas, Portland and St Mary — that were worst affected — were now, more than ever, "depending on this assistance as they seek to recover from the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy".
He said the finance minister should "demonstrate some compassion in this difficult time".