The Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) has expressed disappointment that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller did not take the opportunity to announce a removal of General Consumption Tax (GCT) from books during her contribution to the budget debate on Monday afternoon.
The Association said it has had discussions with tax officials at the Ministry of Finance, explaining that only $28 million will be realized in tax revenue from non-textbooks during the financial year 2012-2013 if GCT is imposed.
“This is a very small fraction of what was originally budgeted and certainly not worth destroying any gains made in developing literacy, reading and the book trade, which may also end up in job losses,” the BIAJ said in a release.
The BIAJ has also expressed concern that the Ministry of Education has embarked on a project to create what it describes as a cumbersome and problematic master list of approved textbooks from early childhood to tertiary that will determine which books are taxed.
“The BIAJ does not support the creation of this master list, but is participating in the process to make the other stakeholders aware of many challenges and disruptions that will arise, particularly in the upcoming back to school season,” the release said.
“The BIAJ calls on the Ministry of Education and all well thinking Jamaicans to join us in calling for full repeal of tax on books,” it added.