Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tax, a four letter word

In Jamaica nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes and more recently debt and/or death by taxes. The Golding Administration has finally released the list of the previously tax-free goods and services that are now subject to GCT. Literate chicken farmers with asthma, who lease land, are thinking of buying a stand-by generator and need to have their goods transported to the market to earn some money to repair their tractors are going to be the hardest hit.

Here are 7 of 59 goods and services that will now attract GCT.

  1. Brochures, pamphlets and leaflets for religious purposes and books other than schoolbooks and booklets.
  2. Animal feeds (excluding pet food) reinstated as zero-rated
  3. The rental or lease of land used for agricultural purposes or as a building site.
  4. All drugs used primarily in the treatment of asthma
  5. Apparatus or machinery designed to produce motive power, heat, light or electricity through the utilization of renewable sources of energy, for example, sun, wind and water.
  6. Transportation of goods within Jamaica.
  7. Repairs to agricultural equipment, tractors, implements, and aircraft and vessels used in international transportation.
Jamaicans have been protesting against the recent taxes imposed by the Government. Police have been busy clearing several roadblocks across the corporate area from as early as 8am. I’m not going to take any chances, I think its time I get home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There’s a hole in the budget

There’s a hole in the budget, dear Bruce, dear Bruce
Then fix it dear Audley, dear Audley, dear Audley
With what should I fix it, dear Bruce, dear Bruce?
With taxes dear Audley, with taxes of course!

The Golding Administration has no intention to borrow to finance the 55-billion dollar shortfall in their 548-billon dollar 2009/10 budget. You don’t have to be an economist to know that this can only be achieved by increasing revenue/taxes. Adjusting General Consumption Tax and imposing a cess/tax on gasoline are most likely to head the list. Ironically this month marks the 10-year anniversary of the April gas riots in Jamaica, in 1999. Jamaicans took to the streets to protest the imposition of a gas tax by the then government, shutting down the country for four days. A reintroduction of a gas tax coupled with the hardships being experienced as a result of the current economic crisis would surely ignite wide-scale public protest. We won’t know for sure until tomorrow when the Finance Minister, Audley Shaw opens the 2009/10 budget debate. Maybe I should full my tank on the way home. Stay tuned to your radios folks.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jamaican Hijacker?

I just had to remove “Jamaican airplane hijacker” from my list of things that I’ll never live to see. Twenty-year-old Stephen Fray somehow walked in off the streets and got past all the security checks at the Sangster’s International Airport in Montego Bay, all while carrying a loaded gun. He then made his way to the runway, boarded CanJet Flight 918 and held the crew and 140 passengers hostage. Fortunately no one was harmed in the eight-hour standoff but the damage to our already ailing tourism sector and reputation is irreparable. The international media is going to have a field day with this one. In addition to being stereotyped as always having drugs in our luggage and our tummies Jamaicans are now terrorists. We are going to be subjected so much scrutiny, security checks and searches when we travel that its best we just turn up to the airport naked and put on our clothes after we’ve boarded the flight.

See article here

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Recap

This was probably the first Easter that I didn’t have any bun and cheese, not counting the two slices I had at my aunt’s house on Good Friday. Like most Kingstonians, the misses and I spent the Easter holidays outside of city limits. Ocho Rios was the destination of choice, it was a party weekend and all the hotels were fully booked. We stayed at Rooms Resorts and it never ceases to amaze me how inhospitable and indifferent hotel staff can be to their fellow countrymen. Haven’t they heard about the global recession? That aside, I got my annual single-dose of soca music at Beach Jouvert on Saturday. Unlike dancehall you don’t need to know the latest dance moves, wear the latest fashion nor be concerned with anything besides having fun. Machel Montano headlined and although his set was geared towards the ladies (thank god for his backup dancers) he gave an energizing and tireless performance. I was never big on bachannal but Jouvert delivered as it usually does. I spent the rest of the weekend mostly in bed, leaving the property only for food. This Easter I managed to strike the perfect balance between rest and recreation. Even now as I reminisce I’m gazing at the calendar looking for another opportunity to leave the city for a few days and head to the coast.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Freeze it Bruce, freeze it!

Public sector workers may have to forego the 7 per cent salary increase due to them this month. The Golding administration has reneged on the terms of the latest Memorandum of Understanding and proposes a wage freeze in the public sector. The wage freeze is the latest consequence of the current economic downturn. Prime Minister Bruce Golding has warned that honouring the increase would result in the dismissal of 22,000 public sector employees. Trade union leaders are incensed and allege that it was a unilateral decision by the Prime Minister. While this civil servant is leaning towards the proposed wage freeze, I recognize that there’s no guarantee it will result in increased job security. I’m for any measure that will avert massive job cuts. I can only hope that when the dust settles the government and the trade unions will find some middle ground that will be in the best interest of public sector employees.

See article here

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I was on a steady diet of orange juice and Theraflu this weekend. My appetite is on hiatus, a sure sign that I’m still sick. It’s been two days since I’ve craved the meat of the chicken, unheard of. The flu virus went stealth and somehow got past my usually impregnable immune system. I wasn’t spared any of the usual symptoms. What lousy timing, this has disrupted the delicate balance between rest and recreation that I so diligently strive to maintain every weekend. Even though Monday is upon me I take great solace in knowing that this is a short week, followed by a four day weekend. Fortunately it won’t be long before I can take my revenge on all this downtime and "jump up and tay lay lay". Have a great week folks.