JIS News

“We have listened and we have heard,” was Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding’s response to public criticism of the tax package announced in the House of Representatives, last week Thursday.
In a national broadcast on Wednesday night (December 23), Mr. Golding said, “the response from the people of Jamaica has been loud and profound.”
“I want to commend the people of Jamaica because despite the strong opposition to the measures announced last Thursday, the country was not shutdown; there has been no disruption; no violent demonstrations. This Government does not have to await an eruption to recognise that it has to change course. We have listened and we have heard,” he told the nation.
However, Mr. Golding explained that the tax package announced last week was designed to raise $21.8 billion, which is the amount required to satisfy the Medium Term Economic Programme the Government has submitted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“Without that additional revenue, there will be no IMF programme. I want you to understand what this would mean,” the Prime Minister added.
“Without the money from the IMF, the exchange rate would come under severe pressure because with the fallout in bauxite and alumina earnings, remittances and other inflows, we would have difficulty in meeting the demand for foreign exchange,” he said.
“Without an IMF agreement, the additional funds from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which we need to support the budget, would not be forthcoming. We have to find this $21.8 billion of additional revenue. That is the stark reality,” he noted.
Mr. Golding pointed out that the tax system has been under review for several years. In 2003, the previous Government appointed a Tax Policy Review Committee to recommend changes to the system. One of the recommendations of the committee was broadening the GCT system to include as wide a range of goods and services as possible.
“The package presented last Thursday was in keeping with those recommendations,” the Prime Minister stated.
He said that the revised tax package will meet the revenue requirements of the Government’s Medium Term Economic Programme.
“We have worked hard to minimise as much as possible the impact on the ordinary Jamaican, on poor families who struggle every day to feed their children and send them to school and on middle class families who also struggle to make ends meet,” he said.
Mr. Golding pointed out that the tax measures were part of the strategy going forward, as there is a range of initiatives to stimulate the economy and create a macro-economic environment that will encourage investments and expansion and facilitate specific projects that will create new jobs and have a significant impact on the economy.
Click here to view/download entire statement

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