#JaBudget2017: Holness defends tax package, warns Phillips not to compare
Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has defended the $13.5 billion tax package saying it does not raise additional revenue for the Government but is a giveback as the administration moves towards indirect taxation.
Making his contribution to the Budget Debates in the House of Representatives this afternoon, Holness, said indirect taxation is fairer and more reliable.
The Opposition has argued that the tax package is "wicked" and is being used to pursue an ill-conceived income tax relief promise that helped the Jamaica Labour Party to its general election win in 2016.
But Holness lashed the Opposition this afternoon saying multiple tax packages of more than $40 billion were imposed under the People's National Party Government during its last term in office.
"Do not ever compare the taxation that you have placed on the people with the taxation that this government has done. Never make that comparison!" Holness charged.
He also brushed aside an appeal by the Opposition spokesman on finance Dr Peter Phillips for Jamaicans to resist the tax package.
"That must be rum talk," Holness said, chuckling.
"We're all in this together and you have to trust the captain of this boat," Holness said, adding that he has been listening.
Holness did not address concerns that the tax policy shift was not among the main campaign proposals to finance the income tax relief.
Meanwhile, he says his administration has sought to provide more resources to poor Jamaicans who could be affected by the tax policy shift.
To support that he pointed to the increases to the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education as well as the school feeding programme.
PATH has been increased by $3.68 billion, bringing its total allocation to $12 billion.
Local think tank Caribbean Policy Research Institute has endorsed the government's budget.