Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Implement ganja tax, reduce public-sector waste - Spence

Published:Saturday | July 15, 2017 | 7:00 AMJason Cross
Nadeen Spence

While throwing suggestions at the Government, particularly the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, with regard to it meeting a favourable minimum wage standard, Tambourine Army and We-Change co-founder Nadeen Spence believes that the local marijuana industry must get moving in order to facilitate favourable returns.

"They should legalise and regulate marijuana and impose a GMI (guaranteed minimum income) tax on the trade to ensure that the GCT (general consumption tax) collected on the sale of marijuana is put into the GMI fund. We are suggesting that PATH (Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education) be abandoned and we should adopt the GMI," she said earlier this week at a forum put on by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to receive recommendations for a new minimum wage bill.

Spence proposed that the GMI be set at $20,000 monthly for persons 18 years and older who earn up to $500,000 per annum.

In order to further facilitate the increase, she said that income tax must be reduced from 25 per cent to 20 per cent.

 

STRIKE A BALANCE

 

She stressed, however, the necessity for a balance to be struck.

"Increase the minimum wage by 12.91 per cent (up from roughly $6,200) to bring it up to a total of $7,000 per week, and increase the penalty for employers who breach the minimum wage act from $100 to $100,000, and an additional $20,000 per day up from $20 a day, until restitution is made to the employee. The minimum wage cannot be too high because not all micro businesses and individual employers earn enough to be able to pay employees a high minimum wage," Spence stated.

She said that the Government should cut back on public-sector waste in order to facilitate the increase.

She highlighted another issue: "We believe that the Government needs to reduce public-sector waste. Between 2009 and 2012, the attorney general reports that more than $6 billion was wasted or could not be accounted for across ministries and departments. We believe that the tax-relief package needs to be modified as well so that some of the money that is not being collected by the Government could be put in the GMI. We believe that we should reduce tax breaks given to companies who do charity work since with the GMI, you would need less charity from private companies," Spence said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com