Fellow Jamaicans, crafting this budget was never going to be an easy task, given the destruction left on the country by Hurricane Andrew and before him Hurricane Bruce . My Finance and I had many sleepless nights in trying to formulate a budget that would be equitable, one that would ensure that everyone pays there fair of taxes and one that would seek to protect the poor.
In keeping with that vein we added $1b to support JEEP, so that our fellow Jamaicans could earn a living after being promised JOBS, JOBS and more JOBS by the JLP who only delivered JABS, JABS and more JABS.
We moved the threshold on electricity up from 200Kwh to 300 Kwh and in so doing ensured the poor Jamaicans would not have to suffer the burden of additional taxes on already high electricity bills. Many including the opposition have said, we have deceived the poor by not removing gct totally. Mr Speaker nothing could be further from the truth and I tell you why. GCT is an input tax and so all registered businesses who are allowed to collect GCT on behalf of the government can claim back this tax and so prices are not expected to rise that much by this new measure.
Mr Speaker what we intend to do here is to catch the tax dodgers, you see by moving the GCT rate up, this will encourage more business to be properly registered and as such can reclaim their gct input tax. Mr speaker too many persons in Jamaica pay no form of tax and GCT provides the best opportunity to go after these tax dodgers.
Mr Speaker there has been much outcry over the taxes imposed on books, bully beef, fish, raw vegetables, patty and a number of other items, but Mr Speaker relief is coming to the Jamaican public.
Mr Speaker we went into to the communites, we spoke with the people, we listened to their concerns and we took notes. We listened to the various interest groups, non governmental and non profit organization and we took notes. Mr Speaker , we are a government that listens to the cry of the people and not only do we listen, we act .
So Mr Speaker having listened to the public I summoned the Finance Minister and his team and a select group to meet with me and I said to them ” Peter and fellow comrades, we have to do something, the people have spoken, they have said we have let them down with this tax package and so we must make some changes. I want you to go back and look at some other areas where we can generate some revenue so we can give back something to the people”.
Mr Speaker Mr Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips came back to me and said ” Sister P, I think we have found some other areas we can extract some revenue and as such we can make some adjustment to the recently announced tax packaged”. Mr Speaker, we are a party that listens, when we say we are going to protect the poor we meant everyword of it and so I am now going to make some annoucement, that will have a postive impact on the lives of the poor.” ( Applause, pounding of desk, tell dem sister P tell dem)
“Mr Speaker effective Monday, June 10, 2012 the following items will revert to tax exempt status, raw food, vegetables, fish , bully beef, salt fish, mackerel , eggs ” ( Thunderous applause, pounding of desk, shouts of people power, pnp is for poor people).
Mr Speaker we not finish yet, we are still meeting with the book lobby group, but we have good news for them too, we will no longer be considering the taxes on books, we cannot tax literacy ( More thunderous applause and pounding of desk).
Mr Speaker, for the hotel sector we have good news, we have listen to you and we will no longer be applying the additional room tax because we have come to the realization that it could negatively impact this fragile industry. We support tourism, its our biggest foriegn exchange earner and as such we must takes steps to ensure its vaibilty is not threatened.
Mr Speaker and fellow Jamaicans, the PNP is a caring party, when we made to pledge to balance peoples lives we meant that and over the next few months we will be taking the necessary steps to ensure that those objectives are meet. My Finance Minister has been having fruitful discussions with the IMF and other multilateral organizations, as we seek to restructure or massive debts.
Mr Speaker the country must earn more and spend less, we cannot continue down the path of spending more than we earn and borrowing to keep us afloat. The country must collect its taxes and I am urging Jamaicans to contribute to nation building by paying thier fare of taxes.
Mr Speaker, many will now be asking where the money will now come from, given the changes that I have just announced, but fear not,my able Finanance Minister when he closes the budget on Thursday, will annouce some changes, so that those who earn more and live in luxury, will have to share a greater part of the burden.
Mr Speaker in closing I would like to say to comrades, to the opposition and my fellow Jamaicans, lets put our political differences aside, lets work collectively for the betterment of Jamaica.
Good bless you all.
Standing ovation, thunderous applause and pounding of the desk.
Mama P has just saved the poor and her messianic image has just been propelled upwards.
Note and disclaimer.
The views expressed above are purely my own and were not extracted from any source known to me or otherwise sent to me. The views here are as I see it and are purely fictional in nature. Any similarity to what the prime minister may actually say is purely coincidental. So just enjoy Jay’s speech .