PNP accuses JLP of doublespeak
As the date for Jamaica's 17th general election draws nearer, the People's National Party (PNP) is accusing members of the main opposition of doublespeak.
"Last night, the leader of the Opposition said that the Jamaica Labour Party would be raising the minimum wage to some $800,000 plus annually. This is a climb-down from the announcement by Audley Shaw that the Jamaica Labour Party would be doubling the minimum wage, moving it from $600,000 to $1.2 million annually," PNP campaign spokesman Delano Franklyn said yesterday.
Shaw, the opposition spokesman on finance, said that a JLP Government would, "in the first instance, move the minimum wage to $8,200 and we naah stop till we reach $12,100".
But Franklyn, speaking at a PNP press conference yesterday, appeared convinced that the JLP is moving the goalpost.
"The Jamaica Labour Party keeps shifting the numbers as reality sinks in, and we are asking the Jamaican people to understand that what we are experiencing is no different from what we experienced in 2007 when a lot of promises were made ... and they were not prepared and could not fulfil those promises," Franklyn said.
In addition to increasing the minimum wage, the JLP is now proposing a tiered income tax system which would see persons with income of $1.5 million or less paying no income tax.
Plan was not workable
However, Franklyn said yesterday that the plan was not workable and has echoed the finance minister's projection of $100 billion to implement programmes being promised by the JLP.
"We continue to maintain that the number that they have been putting out in relation to their promises is not credible," Franklyn said.
Meanwhile, the Hansard record of Parliament indicates that Shaw has long held the view that Jamaica cannot afford to raise the income tax threshold too high.
Speaking in the House on April 8, 2010, Shaw, who was then finance minister, noted that the administration had doubled the income tax threshold and was not in a position to do more.
"We have short memory. Last year this time, the income tax threshold was in the region of $220,000. It is now $441,000," Shaw said.
The government was just emerging from the two-year global recession.
"We are not saying, you know, Mr Speaker, that it's enough, because when we look at other territories, Barbados, their income tax threshold is J$1 million when you try it out. But the truth is, their per-capita income is US$16,000 and ours is under US$5,000, so it is a question of affordability. For God sake, man, we are going in the right direction; give wi little something nuh, man," the parliamentary record noted Shaw as having said.