Fish tax stinks!
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Talk about fishy business! We are indeed sailing on stormy seas. Can it get any worse? Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips announced a broadening of the tax net in a budget presentation last week.
He stated that tax will be imposed on basic food items such as eggs, corned beef, flavoured milk, condensed milk, pickled mackerel, beef patties, rolled oats and fish, while chicken is excluded. Although chicken is a favourite of many Jamaicans, we love fish, too!
GCT on fish is a hard one for us Jamaicans to digest. GCT on lobster, conch, shrimp and other more pricey seafood is a minor problem, especially for low-income families who are not able to afford it anyway. However, imposing tax on fish is a concern for many.
Proper nutrition and diet are major contributors to preventing diseases and prolonging life. Fish is arguably the best choice in the category of protein-rich food and cannot be easily substituted. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which may reduce the risk of diseases.
Many fish distributors do not own a registered establishment, hence they'll easily escape taxation. However, many will hike their prices with the newly imposed tax rate, which will pressure us poor people. It seems as if we have no alternative but to go back to the good old days of ackee, chicken neck and chicken back.
The Private Sector Working Group suggested setting the tax rate at 12.5 per cent instead of 16.5 per cent and applying the GCT uniformly across the board. I believe this would lessen the impact of the tax package, especially on low-income families.
May Pen, Clarendon