Wor­ried!

MPs de­mand­ing ac­tion to pre­vent swell in poverty fol­low­ing tax pol­icy shift

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL SOMETHING EXTRA - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter

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,

HENRY

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