Sun | Jul 15, 2018

Seeking clarity on oil tax

Published:Friday | June 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I am in full agreement with your editorial of June 15, 2016, titled 'Heat, but no light on HFO', as I clearly remember the minister of finance stating that the special consumption tax (SCT) on heavy fuel oil would not apply to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS). Consequently, I am just as confused as the rest of the country to hear JPS citing the increase in the aforementioned tax among reasons for a 12.8 per cent increase in electricity bills for this month.

The writer of the editorial is correct that the minister of finance needs to urgently "clarify this matter of the application of the SCT to the electricity sector ... ," as the fears of higher electricity bills have now become real. Indeed, the prime minister himself may need to address the matter as the country is impatient for a Government that takes the people's business seriously.

Ministers of government need to be reminded that they are no longer on the political campaign trail, so policies must be properly formulated and communicated. Failure to do so will foster distrust and uncertainty, leading to a widening of the trust deficit.

It is one thing to announce a tax plan during an election campaign and then proclaim ignorance that the proposed source of funding was not available, but this disclaimer will not be acceptable when the application of a tax in a supposedly carefully crafted budget (with International Monetary Fund input to boot) turns out to be the opposite of the minister's announcement.