Shaw Responds to Tax Package Critics

Finance Minister Audley Shaw is this afternoon defending the decision to impose a general consumption tax on Group Health Insurance.

This element of the tax package appears to be the most criticized with players in the insurance sector and the parliamentary opposition calling on the government to reconsider the move.

But speaking this morning at a post budget press briefing at the Finance Ministry’s Heroes Circle head office Minister Shaw says the tax will not be a burden on companies.

President and CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica, Richard Byles, has said the imposition of the GCT would discourage Jamaicans from getting health insurance. But the Finance Minister said it’s the employer who will bear the additional cost.

He says it’s unlikely employers will pass on the GCT to their workers.

Minister Shaw says he doesn’t see the GCT on group health insurance as a major cause for concern.

Audley Shaw, Finance Minister speaking this morning at a Post-Budget press conference at the Ministry of Finance at Heroes Circle in Kingston.

The revenue measure will take effect on April 3. It’s expected to yield nearly $2-billion.

Meanwhile, Minister Shaw is maintaining that he doesn’t expect an increase in taxi fares as the price of oil on the world market is not set to escalate.

Last week several Taxi Associations said they would be making an application for a fare increase. This, to cushion the impact of the increase in the Special Consumption Tax, SCT, on fuel.

According to Mr. Shaw, the move is in keeping with the shift towards indirect taxation. He says it cannot be escaped.

The proposed SCT on fuel is expected to yield over $7-billion. It will take effect on Wednesday.