President of the Jamaica Egg Farmers’ Association, Mark Campbell, is again appealing to the Government to remove General Consumption Tax (GCT) on table eggs to cushion the impact of rising production costs on struggling local egg farmers.
In addressing the association’s general meeting in St Ann on Friday, Campbell said successive ministers with portfolio responsibility for agriculture have promised to address the plight of the egg farmers, but nothing has been done to date.
According to him, the increasing prices for chicken feed caused primarily by disruptions in the global market, is leading to a rise in egg production costs locally.
“We, through the ministry during the (COVID-19) pandemic, demonstrated that Jamaicans will buy more eggs if the GCT is not on it, (and) if it gets to consumers cheaper by removing the GCT,” asserted Campbell.
“… Because even when you the farmer don’t charge that GCT, the supermarket man puts it on. So, the consumer pays it, and so it is a burden to the consumer.
“Every single minister who has sat in the chair (over recent years) has promised to deal with this matter, and we still wait,” he bemoaned.
Campbell predicted that once the GCT is removed from table eggs, it will also lead to growth in the agricultural sector locally.
The Jamaica Egg Farmers’ Association has long held the view that the GCT, which was applied to table eggs in 2012, has created disparities in the industry.
During an address at the association’s annual general meeting in February of last year, then Agriculture Minister, Floyd Green, agreed with the suggestion that the GCT should be removed from table eggs.
“If we’re saying it’s (eggs) such a good protein; if we’re saying we’re now looking how we can feed ourselves; then we have to reduce the cost so that working people can be able to afford (eggs),” stressed Green at the time.
In noting that the tax on eggs has been driving up its cost, Green then said he was lobbying Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, to ascertain whether the tax can be removed.
However, Green noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was difficult to ask for the tax to be removed.
He, however, assured that the Government had no plans to abandon the egg farmers, stating that “we will continue on that trajectory” of intervening when necessary to protect an industry that has “great nutritional value”.
Since that time, the Agriculture Minister has been headed by two different ministers following Green’s resignation in September 2021 over a party incident.
Audley Shaw took over the portfolio after Green’s resignation, and Pearnel Charles Jr was appointed in January of this year after a Cabinet reshuffle.
Pearnel Charles Jr
Green currently serves as Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), with primary responsibility for the implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS).