Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Casserly switches to PNP, gives $1.5-million tax plan thumbs down

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2016 | 2:29 AMDebbie-Ann Wright
Patrick Casserly: They were never straight with me.
In this file picture, members of the Jamaica Labour Party's Economic Advisory Council are, from left, Patrick Casserly, Colin Williams, Fayval Williams and Aubyn Hill.
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Businessman Patrick Casserly has switched allegiance from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to the People’s National Party (PNP), and has cast doubt on the JLP’s personal income tax plan in his wake.

But on the eve of the country’s 17th general election, when nerves are frayed and anxiety soaring, the JLP seems not to be rattled by this latest development.

“When we talk about the $1.5-million threshold, that is so tremendously attractive. It is a great campaign strategy, but I just don’t know how we are going to pay for it,” Casserly said of the JLP’s income tax plan while speaking on ‘Cliff Hughes Online’ on Power 106 FM yesterday.

Casserly was part of the Aubyn Hill-chaired Economic Advisory Council of the JLP, created in June 2014.

The JLP had explained, then, that the council was established as it searched for ways to eliminate poverty and drive growth, development and prosperity.

The businessman, who made his name in business process outsourcing, labels the JLP plan to eliminate income tax for persons making $1.5 million or less “a worthy aspiration”, but says a more viable one would focus on stimulating local production, particularly in agriculture.

TAX BURDEN

“All of us agree that we need to remove the tax burden from the PAYE, but what we also don’t want to do is have people who are in the tax net right now start to come out of the tax net,” he says.

He argues that persons earning higher than the $1.5 million may seek to collude with their employers to avoid paying taxes. Aubyn Hill told The Gleaner that he would not comment on Casserly’s assertions “at this time”.

“We are focusing on other things,” he said.

Casserly had once been fancied to become the JLP’s man to wrest the West Central St James seat from first-term parliamentarian, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams.

However, his hopes were short-lived after the JLP bypassed him for Marlene Malahoo Forte.

“I was very disappointed,” he says of how the matter was handled. “They were never straight with me.”

According to Casserly, the JLP leader, Andrew Holness, and other members of the party held one meeting with him in which they told him of their “uncertainty” about allowing him to run on the party’s ticket.

However, he says this was never explained, and he got nothing in writing.

Furthermore, he says he had also realised that there were ideological differences between him and the JLP.

He says he took time away from the political scene to reflect, but has over the last three months found listening ears for his ideas and vision among several government ministers with whom he has been meeting.

“I was heartened by their response. There was no negative response to my discussion with them and that shows a certain level of maturity, which I think is needed in our political process,” he stated.

Kamina Johnson-Smith, a JLP campaign spokesperson, had a single comment on Casserly’s claims.

“We acknowledge his disappointment and wish him the best of luck,” she said in an emailed response to The Gleaner.

debbie-ann.wright@gleanerjm.com