Our Finance Minister and the Jamaica Labour Party find themselves between a “Rock” and the IMF. That was the notion, as he (The Finance Minister) prepared to give a presentation on how his government will finance the 2016/2017 budget, in Gordon House Jamaica, on Monday May 12, 2016. Clearly they need to comply with the restrictions of the IMF deal because they want to gain the credit the P.N.P. got for doing the same thing, (and, don’t forget, remain in power!) while, despite the current economic fragility, keep their “prosperity” promise (and, don’t forget, remain in power!). So what do they do? They, “Phase it in” i.e. raise the Income Tax Threshold from $592,800.00 to 1 million dollars as of July 1, 2016 and then on April 1, 2017 to 1.5 million dollars. What that does is put monies back into the pockets of all P.A.Y.E. workers; Jubilation! Celebration! Unprecedented! But, through the back door they have sneaked in a new tax package. Did anybody notice?
In order for us to keep extra pocket money the government will give up approximately 12.5 billion dollars by increasing the tax threshold, and collect from the new tax/revenue approximately 13.5 billion dollars; wow! I’m not so much happy anymore. In fairness to this government, since their last term in office, they have sought to operate “outside the box” wouldn’t you agree? Even in instituting new taxes. Give credit where it’s due, we never, saw this one coming. If one thinks about it, they all do the same; don’t they? It could be interpreted as putting a band aid with smiley face and bright colours over a sore. It just looks attractive but it doesn’t really cure the wound, it may become worse.
Mama P! Mama P! She looked really tired, even battle worn, as she was being interviewed after the budget debate. But she’s a real champion of the poor; always speaks on behalf of the poor. She didn’t say much, but it was clear that she said the poor would suffer because of the new tax. This seems to be very effective if one wants to be heard. When giving a sound bite, insert; “the poor!” or “children have to go to school!” Example: someone would say; “We want justice; because the children have to go to school,” Or “We poor, so we have to hustle, and sell on the street, we don’t have anywhere else to go cause the children have to go to school”. Have you ever heard it? The next time the news is on, and there is a demonstration, listen out for it.
Ultimately, it is the civil servants like me and most of you, who feel it hardest. It is like climbing up a rope from a deep hole with only a couple of feet left to reach the top, and then someone pours oil to drench the rope; two steps forward five steps back. That popular Jamaican saying comes to mind.
Well, as we also say here in Jamaica; “A nine day wonda” Let’s just see.