“I don’t think it’s fair. Patty is poor people food; when you can’t afford anything else, you can buy a beef patty, which is under $100,” one man inside the Cross Roads branch of Tastee Limited said.
he majority of patrons who spoke to the Jamaica Observer yesterday during the lunch hour shared this sentiment, with most insisting that the tax placed on basic food items was a wrong move by the Government.
Last Thursday in his Budget presentation, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips announced that patties, as well as a range of other basic food items — such as flavoured milk products, condensed milk and milk substitute, eggs, salt mackerel, salt fish, buns, crackers, syrup and corned beef — would be subject to General Consumption Tax of 16 1/2 per cent effective June 1.
Since then, the Government has been receiving a lot of criticism, especially from poor Jamaicans, many of whom purchase patties for lunch.
Yesterday, patrons at Tastee, one of the country’s largest producers of patties, lamented that the poor Jamaicans have always and will continue to bear the burden of taxation.
A cashier, who declined to give her name, said beef patties are the cheapest items on their menu.
“A patty and a box drink is less than $200, what are people to do now?” she asked.
Kitwanna Labeach, who had just sat down to have his lunch — a chicken patty, cocoa bread and a soda, which he said cost about $300 — had serious views on the issue.
“It’s the cheapest fast food you can get,” he said. “Hungry people with their last dime can get a patty. Taxing patties is unfair for the poorer people.”
Labeach also said the poor seem to be the ones who always pay, while the rich always find a way out of paying taxes.
“It does not matter, it’s not only about patties, it’s always about where it goes; they need to fix all of the Budget. There are better ways to go about getting money for their debt without pressuring the poor,” he added.
He also said that most working class people will now have to revamp their entire Budgets to include the taxes.
“People will have to change their budgets for the entire week. GCT on patties means you will have to calculate that, and your bus fare and everything else. You will have to reconstruct everything. I know I will have to start thinking twice about my daily trip to Tastee,” he said with a smirk.
An elderly woman, who gave her name only as Miss Walker, was quick to share her opinion.
“Raising the price is extreme and will weigh on our pockets; the Government can do better,” she said.
GCT has also been added to text books, printed materials, animal feed and planting products such as cereals, seeds and nursery stock as well.