Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Political parties mum on loss of import duty concession

Published:Monday | February 15, 2016 | 2:00 AM

NEITHER THE ruling People's National Party (PNP) nor its parliamentary opposition, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), will be able to access the customary 20 per cent discount on import duties for vehicles used for election campaigning this time around.

And while they have both been hard hit by the loss of this privilege, about which they are yet to be notified in writing or given a fulsome reason officially, both parties have kept silent on the matter.

"That was cut out this election, much to the dismay of candidates from both parties. No concession, absolutely none," Paul Burke, the PNP's general secretary, told The Gleaner last Thursday.

"That has been cut out totally," he insisted, while noting that neither of the parties has been officially advised of the change under which both had received concessions for some 100 vehicles each for the 2007 polls.

"Bwoy, I don't know, you know. All I can tell yuh seh is it no longer exists. Nothing was ever written to us. We just heard it was not possible again under the Ministry of Finance's fiscal-constraint discipline; never communicated to us. No party has got. Trust me," Burke declared.

When pressed as to the reasons for the PNP's silence on the matter, this was his response.

"Weh we going do? Remember, you know, it is applicable to both parties. It's not like one is getting it and one is not getting it. So there is nothing we can do."

The JLP's Derrick Smith would also not say much on the matter.

"Well, is not me you must ask. You must ask Dr Phillips. It's a government decision. It's not the Opposition's decision," Smith told The Gleaner.

ON EQUAL GROUND

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander, and bawling out, I don't think, would have made a difference. And the fact that we don't have that privilege and the PNP candidates wouldn't have that privilege as far as that issue is concerned, we would be on equal ground."

The JLP stalwart and candidate for St Andrew North Western, who is being challenged by the PNP's Donovan Isaacs, said that it has significantly affected his party's campaign activities.

"In particular, I would believe rural candidates, who would have a much wider area to cover than Corporate Area candidates, but it is a major impact in terms of our budget cost for transportation. To the best of my knowledge, individuals utilised vehicles locally. Some might have brought in, but I'm not aware of that. I didn't. I utilised what's available locally."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com