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Shaw shines light on PM's tax 'betrayal'

Published:Wednesday | May 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Simpson Miller

PRIME MINISTER Portia Simpson Miller was heading for the side door of the Chamber of the House of Representatives when Audley Shaw stopped her in her tracks.


"No, no, no ... . That is why I did not want to give out that book," Shaw, the opposition spokesman on finance, said in reference to the prepared text of his contribution to the Budget Debate yesterday.

Shaw was in the process of chiding the Simpson Miller administration for a betrayal of trust, and had touched on the issue of general consumption tax (GCT) on electricity when the prime minister attempted to leave the Chamber.

Amid shouts from Opposition members that she stay put, a smiling Simpson Miller took a seat in the second to last row on the Government benches.

"The prime minister, when she was leader of the opposition, said last year 'how many of you can pay your light bill?' The next PNP Government will remove GCT on electricity'," Shaw recalled.

He lashed the Government for what he said was a betrayal of the promise. He said the increase in GCT on electricity from 10-16.5 per cent would "wreck a lot of small business operators".

"It is a destructive and deceptive move coming from a Government that made a solemn promise to eliminate the GCT completely," Shaw said.

He added: "This was a promise made to win an election and now that you reach you have broken your promise."

Although it did not remove the GCT on electricity, the Government is to increase the threshold above which the tax is charged from 200kWh per month to 300kWh. It will result in 90 per cent of Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd customers not paying the tax.

Below filing threshold

Shaw argued that there were thousands of small businesses which consume more than 300kWh of electricity each month but would not be able to claim GCT returns because they are below the GCT filing threshold.

In the meantime, Shaw chided the Government for reducing GCT on basic food items by only one percentage point while subjecting more items to taxation.

"The Government has betrayed the marginalised and poor people by taxing a large list of basic foods without putting in place an enhanced welfare programme as a compensatory conditional cash transfer initiative to ease the burden on the poor," Shaw said.