Letter of the Day: Big waivers, big problem
THE EDITOR, Sir:
It was interesting to read The Gleaner's report, 'Big waivers for popular Jamaicans' (June 19, 2015). The report gave a sample of some prominent Jamaicans, including lawyers, athletes and politicians, who benefited greatly from tax waivers. Interestingly enough, most waivers were used to purchase cars.
I don't think anyone could argue on a well-deserved waiver to a reputable organisation getting a break on an expensive piece of equipment or machinery, used in production, stimulating the economy and employing people. Or a company in tourism (or any industry for that matter) that has contributed greatly to the development of the industry over the years getting a one-time break.
But most waivers, however, as listed in the report, were for motor cars. The waiver cap, we understand, is $10 million per month in total, based on agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). So, even the IMF realises that waivers must be controlled, as they can hurt the economy and limit Government's potential to earn revenues to do what they need to do.
We also saw some retired persons getting tax waivers, one for $1.1 million on a Mercedes-Benz! Now if you have the funds to purchase a Benz, you should have the funds to pay the taxes!
Who grants waivers?
Who approves these waivers anyway, and in what capacity? Are the reasons for waiving also stated in the tax-waiver document? Or is it based on who knows who, and a decision taken to simply waive, or not to waive?
We hope the Government of Jamaica will come clean with the entire waiving process. There are some instances where it is totally acceptable, but transparency is key.
Too many waivers can create big problems for Jamaica. We are cash-strapped and can't even pay decent wages to public servants providing essential services!