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Portia urges JLP Gov't not to squander her legacy on the altar of 'tax-perity'

Featured Portia urges JLP Gov't not to squander her legacy on the altar of 'tax-perity'
OPPOSITION Leader Portia Simpson Miller has warned the Andrew Holness administration not to squander on the altar of tax-perity, the legacy of her government which surrounded the building and transformation of Jamaica’s economic and social foundation in the interest of the Jamaican people .

"Anybody who has built a house, knows that the most difficult part is laying the foundation. Our Government has done the heavy lifting," the Opposition leader said  during her budget presentation — a significant portion of which extolled the various programmes undertaken by her People’s National Party during its four years in power.

"I stand before this Parliament and the nation today to remind you that my Administration was bold enough to take on the difficult challenges that successive governments have shied away from for decades. We are proud of those accomplishments. We are proud of the Jamaican people who courageously, and with dedication to nation, stood with us on this journey," the Opposition Leader  declared.

Mrs Simpson-Miller told Parliament, "let us not squander the sacrifices of the people. Let us resolve to stick to the programme and do the necessary work to help our people fulfil their aspirations."

has dismissed the Government’s 2016/17 budget as being made up of many programmes that were left behind by her Administration, but missing the critical elements that will make them workable.

She also said the Opposition was concerned that the Government had deviated from the plans for those programmes.

“We left them there with adequate funding… we are concerned,” Simpson Miller stated, arguing that the Andrew Holness-led Government was proving to be “a Government of announcements” which are not linked to formal policy and the funds to support those policies.

The Opposition leader made the criticisms in the House of Representatives  on Thursday during her budget presentation — a significant portion of which extolled the various programmes undertaken by her People’s National Party during its four years in power.

"Locally and internationally, Jamaica’s success was hailed as being transformative. Jamaica saw improvement in the doing business index; Jamaica was voted as the best country in the Caribbean to do business; and the best performing stock market in the world for 2015;

"Businesses - large and small, foreign and local - were investing and creating employment for thousands of Jamaicans. Consumer confidence was at an all time high. Mr. Speaker: For the first time in decades, Jamaica had a balanced budget and a healthy primary surplus. The country had savings and had started to invest in social services to improve our people’s lives in a sustainable way.

  • "It is said that inflation is a tax on the poor and I agree. The historic low levels of inflation really meant that all Jamaicans were finally getting the most sustainable tax break they had received in 50 years. This explains the high levels of business and consumer confidence in the country.

  • "We led the drive for growth, job creation and better pay for workers, through the promotion of major commercial and industrial projects in:

     Tourism
     Agriculture
     Mining
     Energy
     Logistics
     Construction; and
     Business Process Outsourcing.

    "In 2007, I broke ground for the construction of the North-South Highway – the single largest investment in Jamaica. This was part of the growth agenda.

    "So when the Finance Minister tweeted congratulations to the current Transport Minister, that message was sent to the wrong person. This new corridor is critical for future developments in housing and hotel construction along the North Coast. It is vital for the efficient movement of goods, people and to encourage further investment.

    "Last year Cabinet gave approval for the design and construction of the Southern Coastal Highway starting with the Harbour View to Morant Bay leg. The second phase should cover Morant Bay to Port Antonio. This was part of a larger vision we had to connect the entire island. Prime Minister, the people of St Thomas are waiting to hear from you and an assurance that their highway will not be abandoned. Such an action would retard economic development for them.

“Jamaica is now at a delicate stage of recovery and the budget being presented threatens to derail that recovery,” she stated during the presentation, which lasted just over an hour.

The former prime minister, whilst insisting that her Administration had been well on the way to leading the country to economic prosperity, accused the two-and-a-half-month-old Jamaica Labour Party Government of slipping in a $13.8-billion tax package on the sly.

Simpson Miller, like her spokesman on finance Dr Peter Phillips did a couple of days ago, said the Government has not delivered on the $1.5-million tax break as promised, and described the measures announced by Finance Minister Audley Shaw last week as having been “deceptively imposed”.

“They said there would have been no new taxes to fund their promised income tax relief. Now every Jamaican man woman and child is paying for that promise,” she said, adding that thousands of people would not benefit.

“What is worse, is that no one will get the $18,000 — not until 2018 — yet everyone will have to pay the new taxes,” remarked the Opposition leader, brushing aside the personal income tax relief plan as “tax-perity”.

She also criticised the proposed changes to the education system. “The auxiliary fee confusion has cast a shadow over the future of our education system,” she argued, and charged that the allocations to secondary schools are not enough to plug the gaps in their budget that would be created by removing those fees.

Simpson Miller also pointed to announcements of changes to the school-feeding programme the early childhood stimulation programme, and the addition of years to the secondary school system.

“The reality for the country is that an underfunded education system will set back the tremendous gains of the past four years. It is time for Jamaica to again have a national consultation on education and arrive at a consensus for the preservation of its gains and the correction of its problems,” she suggested.

Last modified onSaturday, 21 May 2016 22:22

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