Did the JLP keep its promise?

May 15, 2016
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer Audley Shaw in Parliament last Thursday as he opened the Budget debate . Regarding the new tax regime, economist Peter-John Gordon asks, "The question is, will this higher take-home pay be able to buy more or less than consumers were able to buy before the tax giveback/increasesd indirect tax change?"

Mi goodas peeps! How oonuh do? Mi hope seh oonu ah hold di fort and ah hold a vibes especially after de recent Budget buss pon we!

My readers might recall that leading up to the February 25 General Elections the Jamaica Labour Party, then in Opposition, announced a 10-point plan which was part of its manifesto.
One aspect of this plan that seemed to resonate with Jamaicans, especially the electorate, was the promise that if elected, it would abolish Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes for all persons earning up to $1.5m.

Essentially, this means raising the income tax threshold to $1.5m. It was said that this would put an extra $18,000 per month back into the hands of those persons falling into this category, including many civil servants, nurses, and policemen. The JLP further promised that this would take effect in April, 2016. Well oonuh dun know seh dat nuff people glad bag buss weh like ‘beigey’ kite and nuff nuff man and ooman seh wooeeeeiii money ohhhhh! Many people believed that the $1.5m promise was a major reason for the JLP’s victory at the polls, so now nuff people start fi wait wid bated breath fi di new budget read as man start look fi get di money weh di JLP promise. In fact, nuff people who no even ah wuk and naw even earn one red cent ah lick dem lip and rub dem hand dem fi di extra $18,000 per month! Mi no know how dem maths out dah one deh, but a so it go when people just lickrish and no listen!


Some people start fi get bringle and talk bout protest and all dem tingz dere when Finance Minister Audley Shaw start gi out some sound seh di money dat de JLP did expect fi use fi keep dem promise nuh deh deh! Man Ah Yawd seh di said money look lakka it disappear inna di Consolidated Fund and dem caaan touch it fi do di tings dem! People start fret dat di extra money naw go drop! 

With this in mind, Shaw’s opening contribution to the 2016 Budget Debate was one of the most anticipated in recent years. Last Thursday, he announced the revenue package, including the details regarding the $1.5m promise.
The long and short of it is as follows: -

1. The Gov’t will keep its pre-election promise.

2. Instead of only those people earning up to $1.5m getting the tax break, ALL PAYE workers will get the benefit. This means that instead of approximately 118,000 people benefiting, now roughly 251,000 people will benefit.

3. Due to the cost of giving the benefit, new taxes will have to be introduced including taxes on cigarettes and fuel/gas. This will be roughly a J$13.8 billion tax package.

4. The tax benefits will be split into two parts - one part taking effect in July, 2016 (income tax threshold raised to ONLY J$1m) and the other next April 2017 (income tax threshold raised to the promised J$1.5m).

Weh, oonuh tink the JLP/GOJ keep its pre-election promise or a play “three card trick” as the PNP contending? Did the Gov’t do a great thing by expanding the benefits so that more people will benefit? How will the new taxes affect the economy and consumer - especially those who do NOT pay PAYE? Will there be devaluation and/or inflation? How will all of this affect Jamaica’s IMF programme? Is the tax package the best one under the circumstances?

One ting mi can seh fi sure, di future aggo be exciting so we haffi keep we eyes and ears open so we can analyse fi weself. Interesting times in de air as we wait pon de contribution dem from de Opposition. Never a dull moment inna Jamaica.

Unnu know me always keep unnu up to di time, so mi beg all a oonu fi do oonu owna budget and try fi mek two ends meet! Until next time, when mi continue fi talk di tingz dem. 

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