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Teachers oppose bank withdrawal tax

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

Wednesday, April 23, 2014    

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ROSE HALL, St James — President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Dr Mark Nicely is calling on the Government to immediately withdraw the proposed tax on bank withdrawals.

"On behalf of the vast majority of Jamaicans, which include the 25,000 members of this association (JTA), I hereby request that the proposed tax be withdrawn immediately," stated a strident Dr Nicely.

He made the strong objection to the proposal — announced by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips last Thursday to help close a $6.7-billion gap in the budget — during yesterday's opening ceremony of the JTA International Education Conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James. The conference ends tomorrow.

He charged that such a proposal, which the Government plans to implement on June 1, would bring further hardship on the nation's teachers and detract from their noble pursuit to develop and share best practices in education.

He said, in light of the harsh economic realities, the current wage freeze and the sliding dollar, the imposition of taxes on bank withdrawals does not reflect the term "balancing people's lives while balancing the budget" -- a term he said was consistently used by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to describe the actions of her Government.

Dr Nicely further urged the Government to follow the JTA's lead in best practices of consultation.

"In the same way that the Jamaica Teachers' Association has engaged in broad-based consultations to arrive at this best practices conference, we encourage the Government to follow the JTA's lead by seeking to engage our people to arrive at best practices in governance, which will include best practices in taxation," said Dr Nicely.

His stance was supported by JTA President-elect Doran Dixon, who argued that the Government must broaden the tax net by going after evaders.

"We urge the Government to do the best practice by going after those persons who are not paying any tax at all. Broaden the base and don't continue to fish in the barrel where you have a few people captive. It is critical that the Government implement, as a best practice, consideration that those persons who should be paying, must be made to pay," stated Dixon.

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