FINANCE MINISTER Audley Shaw says he does not intend to have the tax committee of Parliament which is to examine proposed tax reform, sit for longer than one month.
"They have had adequate time to go through the document with a fine-tooth comb," Shaw told The Gleaner last week. He said the committee would start meeting when Parliament resumes its sittings later this month.
The minister, who is to chair the committee, has appealed to members of the public to make submissions to Parliament's tax committee which is to examine the proposed tax- reform policy.
"The work of the committee is very important, because, at the end of the day, we want it to be seen as a consensus, building process," Shaw said.
He said any cursory examination of the Green Paper on tax reform would "reveal that we are trying to really make a significant policy shift in the whole approach to taxation, and that shift is signalling towards lower overall duties which, we hope, will generate greater and higher levels of compliance."
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has told the committee to consider national imperatives in determining when it considers the report.
"I want to urge the committee ... to consider what is in the broad national interest and not necessarily what may be favoured by particular interest groups, no matter how powerful they may be," the prime minister said.
The Green Paper on tax reform was tabled in the House of Representatives in May. It proposes, among other things, a reduction in the rate of the general consumption tax (GCT).
The Green Paper also proposes that the five per cent advance GCT now charged on the importation of goods be abolished, and replaced with an advance five per cent on the cost, insurance, freight fee paid by commercial importers, except for bauxite and petroleum.
The Green Paper also proposes that the personal income-tax threshold, which now stands at $441,168 per annum, be increased starting January 2012 through to 2014. An increase in the threshold for personal income tax has also been proposed.
It has also been proposed that a phased compulsory filing of income tax returns be instituted.
Already, the regional think tank, the Caribbean Policy Research Institute has said the proposals are unlikely to make the system more efficient.
The members of the committee are Shaw, Dr Ken Baugh, Edmund Bartlett, Dr Christopher Tufton, Robert Montague, Anthony Hylton, Dr Omar Davies, Dr Peter Phillips and Fitz Jackson.
Phillips has said the committee should not wait until September to begin meeting. "These are weighty matters that require careful deliberation," he said.
The finance minister has said it is not practical to have the committee start sitting now. He said the preparation of a supplementary budget, which is to go before Cabinet today, is now the focus of much of his attention.
Persons wishing to participate should submit comments and suggestions to: The Chairman; Parliamentary Tax Committee; Houses of Parliament, Gordon House; 81 Duke Street, Kingston.