What Phillips said
Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Dr Peter Phillips, yesterday urged the Andrew Holness administration to "wheel and come again" with its $13.5-billion tax package during his contribution to the 2017-2018 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives. Here is some of what he said:
1. On Simpson Miller
"The Leader of the Opposition (Portia Simpson Miller), for the past ten years, has led this side both in government and in Opposition. She has indicated that she intends, within a few weeks, to demit office as leader of the People's National Party and I want to use this occasion to pay my personal tribute to her for her resolute and inimitable guidance to the affairs of this side during her tenure of leadership."
2. On the Budget
"This Budget does not advance Jamaica's economic reform programme. It offers no hope that it will solve the fundamental challenges that face our people."
3. On the NHT draw-down
"The total confusion with respect to the proposed draw-down from the National Housing Trust of $11.4 billion goes beyond the simple matter of confusion and may involve a breach of trust. It seems clear that this administration's approach to governance does not include taking the people into their confidence. They are more comfortable proceeding in a 'samfie' way."
4. On Economic Growth
"Despite all the talk about growth, this is not a growth Budget. After the $29 billion in taxes, the capital expenditure is only $53 billion, of which $40 billion - and the bulk of this is for debt repayment, leaving a mere $13 billion for capital investment."
5. On Crime
"Last year, despite the promise of the honourable prime minister during the election campaign that we were going to be able to sleep with our windows and doors open if his party won, Jamaicans now have never felt more insecure."
6. On the Tax Package
"This onerous tax package which has been forced on to the backs of the Jamaican people is not caused by any national/economic crisis in the Jamaican economy; it is caused solely by the decision of the Government - a decision rooted in ill-conceived partisan political interests."
7. On the IMF
"I note that the minister of finance no longer disparages the passing of IMF tests and no longer draws a line of demarcation between 'the IMF test' and 'the people's test'. It should be apparent to all that passing the IMF tests laid the foundation for economic success for the benefit of the people."
8. On Poverty
"We will have to directly confront the poverty and inequality that is embedded in our economic and social reality. And this will require three critical initiatives: a new deal for Jamaican agriculture, a resolution of the land question, and a new approach to housing for the majority of our people."