Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Peter Phillips has rebuffed claims by the parliamentary opposition that the hammering out of a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be prolonged beyond year-end.
At the same time, Phillips declared yesterday that the tax measures that were met with stern opposition from sections of the public and the Jamaica Labour Party are yielding positive results.
"There is no basis to suggest that an (IMF) programme will not be concluded before the next calendar year," declared Phillips during a debate on a tax-related motion yesterday.
"It is not so, and we certainly have indicated otherwise to this House, a negotiating team will be here in September and we are working on a presentation before the end of the last quarter of the calendar year," he added.
In response to a challenge from Opposition member Karl Samuda - during debate on the motion to refer the report of the proposed slate of tax reforms to a joint parliamentary committee - Phillips told the House of Representatives that there were higher levels of compliance by taxpayers than in the previous years.
He, however, stressed that challenges remained.
"The fact is, before the new measures took effect in April and May, tax revenues stood at over 14 per cent above the (corresponding) period last year, because of greater compliance," said Phillips. He said tax revenues for June 2012 were 11 per cent above the corresponding period in 2011.
"That reflects improvement in compliance and administration," Phillips informed Parliament.
"I think it bears noting that preliminary estimates based on airport arrivals for the fiscal year to July 21, 2012, [show] an increase in arrivals of 5.9 per cent relative to the corresponding period last year," he said.