MPs demanding action to prevent swell in poverty following tax policy shift
THE GOVERNMENT’S new policy shift towards indirect taxation is under more scrutiny as parliamentarians demand action to ensure that the number of Jamaicans living in poverty – approximately 550,000, or 20 per cent of the population – does not swell.
The Andrew Holness administration is phasing in an increase in the income tax threshold, increasing consumption-based taxes to fill the gap, which is part of a revised election promise.
Fourteen billion dollars in taxes has been created to fund phase one, which was implemented in July, while another $16 billion will be needed to support phase two next April.
On Wednesday, Dr Wykeham McNeill, chairman of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), echoed concerns of members, saying he was worried about the impact of the switch to indirect taxes without any increases, so far, in socialprotection programmes.
“The question we as a committee must ask is whether we are going to have to recommend to Parliament that we have to move speedily to increase that safety net because if we leave things as they are, would we not expect to see an impact on poverty levels?” he said.
ANNUAL INFLATION RATE
The concerns came after Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter reported that inflation for September was 0.5 per cent,