'We've been butchered': Holness tells Gov't to backtrack on taxes, pitches 10-point formula
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness yesterday summoned the Portia Simpson Miller administration to halt plans to impose the revised property tax, even as he launched a broadside against the Government for subjecting Jamaicans to what he characterised as unprecedented hardship.
"The Government has butchered us with taxes," he said.
"I say this in all sincerity, with the greatest respect, it will have a negative effect … ," warned Holness during his contribution to the Budget Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday.
Holness also called on the Government to roll back the Transfer Tax and Stamp Duty, which were announced by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips in February.
The opposition leader appealed to the Government not to permit a rate increase for which the National Water Commission (NWC) has applied. "We are not of the view that a rate increase is necessary at this time," he stressed.
He, however, endorsed Govern-ment's decision to increase the education tax and introduce tablet computers in selected schools.
LOOK AT DIVESTMENT
Holness proposed that the Government divests itself of entities such as children's homes, the Nutrition Products Ltd, the Cocoa Industry Board, and all maintenance services and transport departments, which he said would save the country more than J$4 billion yearly in operating costs and management salaries.
These were among 10 recom-mendations in a package deal to recharge the Government that he accused of retreating into helpless surrender.
Holness urged the admin-istration to merge all corporate and support services as much as possible, as well as establish one central payroll platform.
The Government should also bring to Parliament plans or laws governing a strategic investment policy. "That is something that Parliament should debate and decide and, ultimately, decided by Cabinet," said Holness.
Another suggestion was for the Government to start the process of urban renewal and logistic planning in order to develop properly planned towns.
USE IDLE LANDS
In this vein, Holness called on the Simpson Miller administration to utilise available idle lands to set up dynamic venture capital parks.
He also called for the establishment of at least one other city, in addition to Kingston and Montego Bay. "Because of the congestion in the Corporate Area, it makes sense to develop a new city," Holness argued.
The opposition leader accused the Government of sending mixed signals in relation to the treatment of Clarendon Alumina Partners (CAP).
According to Holness, Phillips told Parliament, when he opened the Budget Debate a week ago, that the Government was pursuing plans to either lease or sell its shares in CAP.
However, Holness pointed to contradictory statement by Minster of Science, Technology and Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell on Wednesday, that the Government had decided not to sell its CAP shares at this time.