The Ministry of Finance is in discussions with the Ministry of Education, in order to arrive at an arrangement which will allow books needed for schools to be purchased through the Education Ministry, so that students can get the books without paying the General Consumption Tax (GCT).
This was disclosed by Minister of Finance and Planning, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, at a post budget media briefing, held at the Press Room at the Office of the Prime Minister, on May 25.
The Minister observed that already, the Ministry of Education provides the basic texts through the book rental programme; however, sometimes additional are books recommended.
“We are in discussions with the Ministry of Education about those additional books, so that they can be made available through the book stores at the schools. So, that is our intention to relieve to the fullest extent possible, that problem that many of the students in the schools may face,” he explained.
With respect to reported information that the Government has decided to divest its shares in the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS), the Minister declared that “Cabinet has taken no decision to sell the government’s 20 per cent interest in the JPS.”
Dr. Phillips said that for many years, the JPS has been on the divestment list, but with the change of Administration, each of these entities (on the list) “needs to be reconfirmed."
“Such a decision has not been taken in relation to the JPS. As a consequence, I did not, in my presentation, make reference to the JPS, even though there was a reference to the JPS in the written text,” the Minister stated.
On the question of a property tax increase, Dr. Phillips gave “practical reasons” for the non-inclusion of the item at this time.
“Already we are in the applicable tax year with respect to property tax and we could not make any increase in the rate of tax, retroactively. The second reason is that we are currently undertaking a re-evaluation of properties and that will be concluded by the end of this calendar year. So, because of these two reasons we did not include any change in property taxes at this time,” the Minister stated.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter