Opposition spokesman on Finance Mark Golding has ridiculed the Government’s $14-billion stimulus package, charging that it provides incentives mainly for the rich, but nothing for the “vast majority” of Jamaicans in inner-city communities scattered across several constituencies, including the one represented by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Further, Golding mocked the projected $4-billion increase in the budget for persons on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), saying it equates to $226 per week or $32 per day for each of the 340,000 beneficiaries.
“It is a drop in the bucket and represents mere crumbs from the minister’s table,” he said, making reference to Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.
“It can’t even buy a patty. It can’t buy a bun and cheese. We cannot see how, if we are to be honest, $32 per day amounts to any prioritisation of the interest of the poorest and most vulnerable,” added Golding, as he made his contribution to the 2019-2020 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday.
But the opposition spokesman reserved his harshest criticisms for the tax give-back, which he argued could not deliver the equity promised by Clarke.
“The current approach of providing incentives mainly to the owners of capital and wealth in the hope of benefits trickling down to the have-nots is repressive and does not serve the interest of the vast majority of the Jamaican people,” he lamented.
Under the $14-billion stimulus package, a total of 3,500 businesses will no longer have to file returns on general consumption tax (GCT). The reporting threshold has been increased to $10 million, up from $3 million, costing the Government $731 million in revenues. The ad valorem (tax related to value) stamp duty payable on loans and other securities under the Stamp Duty Act will now attract a flat fee of $5,000 per document, costing the Government $6.65 billion in revenue. The transfer tax rate on the sale of property will be cut from five per cent to two per cent, slicing $3.431 billion in tax revenue.