PNP councillor joins call for removal of tax from laptops, tablets


PNP councillor joins call for removal of tax from laptops, tablets

Observer writer

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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LITTLE LONDON, Westmoreland Ian Myles, the People's National Party (PNP) councillor for the Little London Division in Westmoreland, has joined the growing calls for the removal of import duty on laptop computers and tablets so as to make the equipment much cheaper and more accessible to a wider range of people.

Myles, who is also the chairman of the Little London Primary School board, stated that, “Especially now that we are in the COVID pandemic period where remote learning is being set up for several institutions, technology gadgets are important.”

“As leaders, we need to encourage parents to fend for themselves by equipping themselves with the necessary tools such as laptop computers and tablets to ensure children will be able to participate in homeschooling. There should be no deterrent to allow persons to access these tools. I am asking for a waiver of these fees for learning gadgets, if even for a period. Not for commercial purposes; just for students and teachers.

The devices are subject to various taxes and fees, which could amount to roughly 20 per cent of the purchase price, on arrival in Jamaica.

Yesterday, Opposition spokesman on science and technology, Julian Robinson, also renewed a call he first made in June during his Sectoral Debate presentation for the Government to remove General Consumption Tax (GCT) on tablets and computers to make them more affordable for students.

Education, Youth and Information Minister Fayval Williams announced earlier this week that come October 5, when the new academic year begins, students will remain at home accessing lessons virtually through the ministry's online learning management system, free-to-air television and radio.

She said the ministry has also undertaken to provide printed material for students — particularly those without Internet access — along with their textbooks and worksheets at home and at agreed drop-off points.

She added that the ministry is targeting approximately 240,000 students in grades four to six and 10 to 13 for distribution of devices to access the Internet.

Additionally, she said eLearning Jamaica has confirmed that all 25,000 teachers have been issued with tablets, and that the ministry will also be engaging community centres and churches to facilitate Internet connectivity to assist students.

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