Sun | Feb 16, 2020

We need to create an immediate middle class

Published:Tuesday | May 14, 2019 | 12:24 AM


A significant percentage of Jamaicans are gainfully employed through the surge of new hotels.

The question I wish to put to both political parties is: are you allowing our human resources to be exploited the way our natural resources were after Independence, as a consequence, leading to a smaller tax recapture for Jamaican governments?

It is quite evident that tourism is a wealth generator. To its credit, it has created a local billionaire and several millionaire hotel owners. One can only assume that it’s generating the same returns to international hotel operations.

Jamaican governments must fall in step with the current drive worldwide to improve the lot of the wage earner at the bottom, many of whom, on a percentage basis, pay more taxes and are more reliable for stimulating the local economy with their spending than top wage earners are.

Jamaican governments have a better track record collecting payroll and income tax from working-class Jamaicans than they probably do corporate tax from multinational corporations or the professional class, for example, doctors, lawyers, and business owners. Multinationals and wealthy Jamaicans are more adept at shielding their wealth from taxes.

The Government should link any tax incentives given to the hotel sector directly to the wage these entities pay to their employees. Will this not throw the economy out of kilter by creating pay inequities? The Government should then use more tax tools to address any imbalance. For example:

a. A more biting luxury tax

b. Redistribution of increased tax revenues to civil servants, for example, security, teachers, and nurses, to name a few. It behoves both political parties, which have set themselves up as guarantors to the Jamaican people, not to repeat the colonial exploitation from our past.