Opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw is contending that some of the tax measures announced by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips yesterday could be illegal.
Shaw said he was particularly concerned about the changes being made to the application of the general consumption tax (GCT) on telephone calls and those paid at the ports.
"Taking in all of the taxes and fees at customs and roping them into the GCT base amounts to possible double taxation and, equally, the mechanism that they are proposing on the telephone is a strategy to seek to garner more money from the wholesalers," Shaw told The Gleaner/Power106 News Centre last night. "But the issue is that the wholesaler is likely to pass on those costs through the line to the retailer and the purchaser," he said.
Shaw said the Opposition would be going over the measures with tax experts before making further comments on the matter.
Earlier, during the sitting of the House of Representatives, Shaw had noted that at the start of the fiscal year there had been an annualised tax package of $23 billion "and now, nine months later, we have another tax package of $16.3 billion that has come at a time when there is no growth taking place in the economy which is in contraction".
Shaw reiterated that for the last four quarters of the 2012 calendar year, the economy was in negative mode that is projected to continue into the last quarter of the financial year ending March 31.
"Set against that background, we have seen this combined tax package of $40 billion," he stressed.
In the meantime, Shaw is also accusing the Government of being deceptive in the way it introduced the taxes, noting that no mention was made of the measures during a meeting at Vale Royal on Monday afternoon, or during the national broadcast later that night.
Yesterday the Opposition finance spokesman and his colleagues walked out of Parliament after their request for the debate on the supplementary estimates was denied.
"As an Opposition, we have a duty to call attention to decisions that we think are bad and will have a deleterious effect on the economy … and we said 'ok, let's put this off until Thursday and allow the Opposition time to have the package properly analysed so that we can make an appropriate and suitable contribution to the debate on the tax package'. That was our request and once it was denied we decided to take the action in protest and walk out."