In a statement today, Paulwell said "with much of our economic activities being informal, the continuation of taxes on essential items such as energy and fuel during the crisis will only worsen the burden on the poor.
He said the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on the bills of JPS customers, and the Special Consumption Tax (SCT) on fuel purchases must be removed to ease the burden on householders, transport and the productive sectors.
“These taxes should be removed initially for three months as Jamaicans are encouraged to stay at home, resulting in an inevitable spike in electricity usage for many without guaranteed incomes,” Mr. Paulwell said.
In addition, he said, the JPSco and other utilities such as the National Water Commission (NWC) should suspend their lock-off programmes to give customers the necessary respite and opportunity to adhere to the health emergency.
Mr Paulwell said, instead of locking off water systems and standpipes, the government should consider an aggressive programme of providing water in marginalized communities to encourage the practice of proper hygiene and sanitation.
Noting that oil prices across the world have plummeted, the Shadow Minister is calling on government to remove the taxes on fuel as part of the national response as this will bring some immediate relief to the transport and productive sectors which have already shown significant signs of distress and could grind to a halt.
Mr Paulwell said the PNP stands in support of the effort by the government and the Bank of Jamaica to stabilise the foreign exchange pricing as part of the COVID-19 response, but the removal of the taxes will go even further in providing much-needed and instant help for families, communities and the industries.
The PNP commends the JPS for its 45M donation to the national effort against COVID-19 and its call for the tax removal on fuel and electricity.
In the meantime, shadow minister of health Dr Morais Guy says the Ministry of Health and Wellness must immediately clarify the transportation arrangements for nurses and hospital workers who work late at night.
The nation has been told that special transportation arrangements have been put in place for our health workers and that the ministry has put buses at selected hospitals to transport nurses whose shifts end late.
“We have received reports from some hospitals under the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) and South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) that nurses have been having transportation costs deducted from their general allowances if they use the buses provided by the state.
"In fact, at one institution where buses have been provided, these have been parked as staff are not using them for fear of being denied their contracted allowances. In this crisis, all efforts must be made to protect our workers who are working under very trying circumstances. Should the situation persist, the safety and security of our nurses cannot be guaranteed.” Dr Guy said.
“The Ministry and the regional health authorities must immediately issue some clarity on this. It needs to be made clear that there will be no charge to the nurses and that their allowances will be maintained.” Dr Guy informed.
He is also urging restraints from some taxi operators who have hiked their rates to hospital workers who they have heard are all in receipt of these allowances. “This is price gouging and the Transport Authority and Mining must ensure that this does not continue.
Our health workers are providing a service to our nation as our frontline defence against this unprecedented health crisis. They must not be penalised by the state nor by taxi drivers for putting their own lives at risk to serve their country,” Dr. Guy declared
- Countries: Jamaica
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