Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Phillips gets 6.5, says political commentator

Published:Wednesday | March 15, 2017 | 3:00 AMSyranno Baines
Kevin O'Brien Chang

Political commentator Kevin O'Brien Chang said that while Dr Peter Phillips scored well in critiquing the Government's tax package from an opposition finance standpoint, he failed to present his own economic vision for the country as opposition leader-in-waiting and potential prime minister.

In citing Phillips' failure to make a distinction from his predecessor, Portia Simpson Miller, Chang graded Phillips 6.5 out of 10 for his contribution to the Budget Debate in Parliament yesterday.

Phillips' highlighting of the new group health insurance tax and its potential adverse impact on Jamaicans, along with his outlining of the $1.5-million tax break and fuel increase, was described as the high points of his presentation.

 

BUDGET LOOPHOLES

 

Chang told The Gleaner: "He made valid points that would have identified possible loopholes in the Government's Budget. However, it's all good and well to say, 'I don't like the JLP's (Jamaica Labour Party) plan of going from direct to indirect taxation.' But like it or not, they do have a plan. By all indications, Dr Phillips is not in agreement with the JLP's plan, but what is his path for growth?"

He added: "Also, you get the feeling that Dr Phillips would have given the same speech if Mrs Simpson Miller was to retain her leadership in two weeks' time, when really he should be delivering a speech as prime-minister-in-waiting with a vision to move the country forward. The regularising of squatters is good rhetoric, both opposition and government have been saying it for years, but no action has followed."

In praising Simpson Miller's fiscal discipline during her tenure as prime minister and acknowledging the deficits which were closed under her governance, Chang further stated that in addition to an alternative vision, Phillips will require a more aggressive approach to leadership.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com