Opposition Leader and President of the People’s National Party (PNP), Mark Holding, led a team of party bigwigs and supporters to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service at National Heroes Circle in Kingston on Monday afternoon to deliver some messages to portfolio minister, Dr Nigel Clarke.
While officially, Golding said the purpose of the party’s march on the ministry was to call on the Government to put measures in place to arrest the runaway fuel costs in Jamaica, the placard-bearing supporters had numerous other messages to deliver.
In his budget presentation earlier this year, Golding outlined an approach which he said would see a cut in the gas tax and an easing of the burden on motorists.
However, On Monday he said the Government had not moved to implement the proposed measure while gas prices have been rising on almost a weekly basis.
Golding said as a result, he drafted a Ministerial Order under the Provisional Collection of Tax Act, to cap the ad valorem SCT (Special Consumption Tax) on petroleum products at the ex-refinery price derived from an oil price of US$67.50 per barrel, the figure which he said was used to cast the present budget.
Golding said with the price of oil now around US$115 per barrel, motorists are being taxed at fuel price levels relevant to the much higher oil price, when the Government’s budget was predicated on a price of US$67.50.
He said Clarke could easily move forward from the presentation of the draft Ministerial Order, to cut the tax on fuels, and thereby ease the ongoing financial burden on the motoring public and on transportation costs that are associated with businesses, for example.
Among those accompanying Golding on the trek to the Finance Ministry were Dr Angela Brown Burke, Member of Parliament (MP) for South West St Andrew and PNP Chairman; Dr Dayton Campbell, PNP General Secretary; Phillip Paulwell, MP for East Kingston and Port Royal and party Spokesman on Mining and Energy; Julian Robinson, MP for South East St Andrew and Spokesman on on Finance; Anthony Hylton, MP for Western St Andrew; and PNP Caretakers: Dennis Gordon, Imani Duncan Price and Joseph ‘Bunny’ Witter.