State Minister for Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the Government’s implementation of the $1.5-million personal income tax threshold represents more than a policy shift from direct to indirect taxation.
“The shift is simply the ‘how’. The ‘why’ is our belief that personal income tax reform can improve the lives of Jamaicans,” she said.
Mrs. Williams was making her 2017/18 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 9, under the theme ‘Enabling Inclusive Economic Growth and Job Creation’.
Mrs. Williams cited a World Bank publication, titled ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016’, which indentified income tax reform as among six domestic strategies that can reduce inequality and result in improved living standards among the poor.
The other strategies, which, she noted, form the basis of the Government’s inclusive economic growth and job creation thrust, are: early-childhood development and nutrition interventions; universal health coverage; universal access to quality education; cash transfers to poor families; and rural infrastructure investments (such as electrification, roads and transportation).
Mrs. Williams said the study further indicated that in most societies, family income levels are pivotal in determining the educational, social and professional opportunities that will materialise, especially for children.
Additionally, she said, it noted that income inequality shapes unequal life opportunities in the next generation.
The State Minister said it is against this background that the Administration is proud of implementing the “one-point-five (plan)”.
She said the Government is also pleased to have been able to significantly improve benefits under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) in fiscal year 2016/17 and again in 2017/18.
An additional $3.68 billion has been provided for the financial year, which is a 47 per cent increase over the previous period.
Of the amount, $1.93 billion is for cash grants and $1.75 billion is for the school feeding programme, which, Mrs. Williams informed, is the largest increase in recent times.