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Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, has announced that no General Consumption Tax (GCT) will be applied to textbooks included on the list of exemptions agreed on with the Ministry of Education.

Delivering the closing presentation in the 2012/13 Budget Debate, in the House of Representatives, Wednesday June 6, Dr. Phillips advised that this decision, which takes effect on June 15, was arrived at following consultations with stakeholders in the book selling industry, which concluded that the imposition of  GCT on these items would undermine the viability of any existing business.

(Related Story: Government Removes GCT on Residential Light Bills)

The Minister informed that, in this regard, it was decided to retain these items on the list of exemptions, and to allow “these (text books) to be distributed through the bookshops."

“We think that this is a workable compromise that will see the students getting approved textbooks free of GCT, and the bookshops remaining viable,” Dr. Phillips stated.

The Minister reminded that the Tax Reform Committee of the House, which included members of the Opposition, quite calmly and rationally deliberated on the issue and made the recommendation that printed matter should be taxed.

“Unfortunately, this is an emotive issue and many of the statements made seem not to have understood that our policy exempted textbooks for schools and Bibles from the tax. We even agreed at the Port Royal deliberations that the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education would come up with a mechanism to ensure that school books would not pay the GCT if it was done through the Ministry of Education,” Dr. Phillips said.

 

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter