Beware of empty election promises, warns PNP
Likening the ‘pay day’ tax policy of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to a broken campaign promise made in 2007 to double the salaries of nurses, the governing People’s National Party has made yet another appeal for Jamaicans to view the promised abolition of income tax for persons earning $1.5 million or less as empty.
“Beware of those people who are promising to do everything overnight,” PNP President Portia Simpson Miller said in Old Harbour, St Catherine, Saturday night.
Fitz Jackson, the PNP standard-bearer for South St Catherine, noted that in 2007, Audley Shaw, as spokesman on finance, said his administration would double nurses pay, a commitment that was not honoured.
“While doubling the nurses’ salary might appear to be ambitious, I don’t believe it is overly ambitious. I don’t believe that it is. I believe that in the context of where you are starting from, it is still a relatively modest claim.
“I believe that this is something that I would like to give the commitment that, as minister of finance, this would have to be just the starting position, doubling the salary of nurses,” Shaw said.
The promise was, however, not honoured.
Jackson said that the JLP income tax promise smacks of desperation and represents lack of respect for the intelligence of Jamaicans.
“When I listen and see the level of desperation by the Jamaica Labour Party, I fret. I fret because I never believe that in 2016, a group of persons, who call themselves educated persons, would reduce themselves to making promises that disrespect the intelligence of the Jamaican people,” Jackson said.
He said that not only do people still recall the promise to double salaries, but they understand the country cannot afford it.
“When dem win the election and the nurses come to them and ask, what about the 100 per cent salary increase promised to dem, dem a tell dem not a red cent more,” Jackson recalled.
“That is the same Opposition that has come to you, the Jamaican people, and say if you earn up to $1.5 million we not going to charge you income tax. But where is the credibility of those persons to make any promise?” he said.
Personal income tax accounts for roughly $76 billion of the total tax revenue of $411.8 billion that the Government intends to collect this year
A private-sector working group tax reform proposal, prepared four years ago, said that registered pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) workers bear the brunt of personal income tax.
There are some 268,000 PAYE workers in the employed labour force of 1.3 million people. Of these, approximately 130,000 are government employees.
Simpson Miller said that the JLP tax proposal could hurt the country’s fragile economy.
“We will not derail the economic recovery and throw away the gains the people of Jamaica have made. You have sacrificed too much and we have come too far,” Simpson Miller said.
Ja leads region in staging of elections – OAS mission chief
Based on the casting of ballots done by police and soldiers yesterday ahead of a general election on Thursday, chief of the Organization of American States (OAS) Electoral Observation Mission, Janet Bostwick, has expressed satisfaction with the voting process in Jamaica.
Now on its third observation mission to Jamaica, the OAS was invited by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) to make findings on how the execution of the election can be improved.
Bostwick told The Gleaner, “We can say that Jamaica is very far advanced in its preparation and the way in which they conduct elections. Jamaica is a leader in this regard, but there is always room for improvement.”
After each mission to Jamaica, the observer team compiles a detailed report with recommendations to the ECJ.
Bostwick says she is satisfied that steps have been taken to implement the recommendations that were made from the elections of 2007 and 2011. Of note, in particular, is the introduction of a campaign finance bill, a recommendation made by the OAS mission from the last election.
The law, however, has not taken effect for the February 25 polls.
Real progress made
Other recommendations concerned the composition of poll workers, which the OAS said was dominated by women, layout of polling stations to accommodate persons with disabilities, and the spacing of voting booths, among others.
“We know that some real progress has been made in each respect, and we are very pleased, about that. Since we have been here … we have been brought up to date on measures that have been put in place since the last election and we are satisfied, indeed very pleased, with measures that have been taken,” she added.
According to Bostwick, “Jamaica has become the leader and has set the pace for elections in the region.”
As Bostwick and her team of 22 observers, drawn from more than 18 countries, monitor the polls on Thursday, they will be looking, scrutinising, analysing and will once again make recommendations towards the enhancement of free and fair elections in Jamaica.
Representatives from the Caribbean Community and the local Citizens’ Action for Free and Fair Elections will also observe the election.
The CARICOM mission is being headed by Josephine Tamai, chief elections officer, Elections and Boundaries Department, Belize.
The other members of the regional body comprise experts in electoral management and administration from Barbados, The Bahamas, Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
On the day of the election, the mission will monitor the electoral process, including the opening of the poll the voting process, the closing of the poll, and the counting of the ballots.
The CARICOM mission will issue a preliminary statement based on its observations and findings. A report of the general election will be subsequently prepared and submitted to the CARICOM secretary general.
Portia Simpson-Miller busca la continuidad en gobierno de Jamaica
La primera ministra Portia Simpson-Miller, única mujer en ocupar ese puesto en Jamaica, buscará otra victoria electoral el 25 de febrero con la promesa de mejorar la calidad de vida y la economía en la isla caribeña.
Considerada la política más veterana de su país, impulsa la reelección del gobernante Partido Popular Nacional (PNP) en medio de una campaña marcada por fuertes ataques de sus adversarios y constantes actos violentos.
El programa de Simpson-Miller propone crear en el próximo lustro 10 mil empleos permanentes para los jóvenes en diferentes sectores y otros 40 mil solo en la industria del turismo, el principal sostén de la economía nacional.
También plantea la gradual reducción de los impuestos, incentivos para estimular la producción y la inversión extranjera, medidas más fuertes de seguridad y estrategias contra el crimen, entre otras promesas.
Simpson-Miller, de 70 años, nació el 12 de diciembre de 1945 y asumió como gobernante de Jamaica entre marzo de 2006 y septiembre de 2007, tras la renuncia de Percival James Patterson.
Es licenciada en Administración Pública, entró en la política en 1974 y lleva casi una década al frente del PNP, partido de tendencia socialista y el más antiguo del Caribe anglófono.
Su trayectoria incluye gestiones como ministra de Trabajo, Turismo y de Gobierno.
Es la tercera mujer que llega al poder en un país caribeño y fue solo antecedida por Mary Eugenia Charles en Dominica (1980-1995) y Janet Jagan en Guyana (1997-1999).
Aunque en la votación del jueves compiten candidatos independientes y de otras tres agrupaciones políticas, el principal rival de Simpson-Miller será nuevamente Andrew Holness, líder del opositor Partido Laborista de Jamaica (JLP).
Sin embargo, diferentes encuestas preelectorales proyectan el triunfo de la mandataria y también conceden al PNP amplias posibilidades de retener gran parte de los 42 curules que obtuvo en 2011.
En esa ocasión, el JLP de Holness se quedó con los restantes 21 puestos del Parlamento.
Más de 1,8 millones de votantes están convocados a participar en el sufragio y a definir entre una nómina de 152 competidores los 65 diputados de la Cámara de Representantes.
Al igual que otras islas del Caribe, Jamaica convoca cada cinco años a elecciones para renovar la Cámara baja y el líder de la agrupación política que obtenga más bancas se convierte en Primer Ministro.
El poder legislativo es bicameral y los 21 miembros del Senado son designados por el Gobernador General del país tras consultas con el jefe de Gobierno y la oposición.