$1.5M Tax Threshold: Joey Issa Happy for Cool, Jamaican PAYE Workers

Private sector advocate Joey Issa, has welcomed the increase in the tax threshold to $1.5 million a year for all pay as you earn (PAYE) workers in Jamaica, especially his own.

Joseph “Joey” Issa

Issa, the young entrepreneur who took the country by storm in the new millennium with his Cool brand of products, was reacting to the tax break announced in Parliament in fulfillment of the Government’s election promise.

“I am happy for all Jamaican workers who will benefit from the tax break, especially Cool employees. Everyone knows we are already a high tax country so a little relief to workers is a good, humane thing to happen for them. What if you were among the beneficiaries, to know that you will now take home more money, won’t that be nice?

“As is prudent, governments normally replace the lost revenue by raising taxes on certain products, the consumption of which is left to individual choices, such as cigarettes, petrol and foreign travel, in this case,” says Issa.

He adds, “Unfortunately, however, what should be a seamless transition — smokers paying $2 more for a cigarette, motorist paying $7 more per litre at the pumps, and travelers paying $20 more to leave the country — is turned into a money-making opportunity by unscrupulous people, even those who are remotely affected by the taxes.”

“Some transport providers will increase fares by much more than is necessary to recover the increase in petrol cost, while many of those who use the service to ply their trade, including foreign travel, will want to increase their prices and make a ‘killing’. Even those who are far removed will join the bandwagon and sell old stock at the new prices.

“So, what this turns out to be in the end is a free-for-all whereby everybody who has something to sell will join the bandwagon and increase prices. When the dust is settled, what should have been a mildly inflationary act becomes a hugely inflationary affair, as unscrupulous people take advantage of the situation,” says Issa.

Based on a Jamaica Observer article, there were more thumbs up than down for the Government’s attempt in fulfilling its election promise. Some of the comments were:

“It is good. I am glad that they are trying to do something…You know a promise is a comfort to a fool, so if he did not fulfill his promise most Jamaicans who voted because of the $1.5-m plan would be disappointed.”

“Fulfilling the promise was one of the best things he could have ever done. The Jamaican people were looking out for it, and to see that they have fulfilled it, it is really good. I am proud of them.”

“I think that it is good that he is taking steps to fulfill the election promise and, although it might not be what a lot of people are expecting, it is still being done in parts. There will be many pleased beneficiaries.”

“The fact that he is making attempts to fulfill that promise, that is what he ought to do, given the history of our politicians not always fulfilling their promises — say something, get votes, [then] nothing happens. The fact that he is trying means that he generally wants Jamaica to be a better place.”