Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 19th 2014 Contents A20
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, April 19, 2014
KINGSTON---The main opposition
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has criticised
the government over its introduction of
a tax on people making withdrawals from
their bank deposits.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips said
the Portia Simpson-Miller government
intends to raise J$6.6 billion (one Jamaica
dollar = US$0.004 cents) in taxes during
the fiscal year, As he led off debate on the
J$539.3 billion national budget last Thurs-
The government says it intends to
receive J$2.5 billion in revenue from the
new levy on the use of ATMs/ABMs, elec-
tronic banking, point of sales, cheques
and Internet transfers when the measure
goes into effect, June 1.
The new levy on withdrawals from
deposit-taking institutions and security
dealers will be calculated on a graduated
rate system, with withdrawals less than
one million being subjected to a 0.1 per
Phillips said the measure was expected
to bring in revenue estimated at J$2.25
million this fiscal year, and would provide
the bulk of the revenue in new taxes.
But JLP spokesman on Finance and
Planning, Audley Shaw, said the govern-
ment was joining those that have already
raised the pockets of consumers in the
He told reporters that the government
had obviously decided that, following the
banks controversial fees and charges, there
was indeed more room "for attacking the
pocket books" of the consumers.
"It is clear that the minister has now
decided that it is not enough for the com-
mercial banks themselves to be attacking
customers with ever increasing charges. He
is joining the raid.
"He is giving company now to the com-
mercial banks, joining in the raid on the
pocketbooks of people who decide to go
and use electronic banking or at points of
sale, and cheques. Imagine cheques! We
are complaining about commercial banks
and now the government is adding its own
tax," said Shaw, a former finance minister.
Meanwhile, head of the Hugh Lawson
Shearer Trade Union Education Institute,
Danny Roberts, said while the budget points
to a positive trajectory in terms of macro-
economic indicators, the working class was
going to feel much of the new taxes.
"The tax package is going to be felt by
an already overtaxed working class, and
unless there are radical restructuring to deal
with the social agenda, the excellent efforts
of the Minister in dealing with the objective
criteria will be frustrated by the people s
perception as to whether the society is
making an effort towards achieving equity,"
he told the Gleaner newspaper. (CANA)
NEW YORK---Rumours of an Amazon smartphone
reached a fever pitch this week, with The Wall Street
Journal reporting that the device could be due out
Amazon hasn t confirmed that it has plans for a
smartphone, and it isn t clear what such a device might
offer in the way of distinctive features. Some uncon-
firmed reports say the phone could have a 3-D interface
and multiple front-facing cameras.
Introducing such a device would be tough in a crowd-
ed market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Even
so, innovations like the Kindle Fire and Prime mem-
bership programme, demonstrate that the online retailing
giant has a knack for using its massive size and mar-
keting budget to capitalise on gaps in the marketplace.
Here s a purely speculative look at five features an
Amazon smartphone could offer.
1. 3-D shopping
A 3-D interface doesn t require special glasses could
have a lot of uses. For example, when you re shopping
online, you could pull up a 3-D image of sneakers or
a jacket and see all of the features easier, suggests Bill
Menezes, principal research analyst at Gartner. Another
possibility: you could scan your living room to make
a 3-D rendering. Then, when you re out furniture
shopping, take a picture and digitally insert the product
into the rendering to see if it fits.
2. Enhanced games
Amazon is rapidly expanding into the gaming arena
with its Amazon Game Studio and video game offerings
on its new streaming device, Amazon Fire TV.
The phone s purported 3-D interface could be a way
to offer a more robust gaming experience.
3. Seamless grocery shopping
Amazon has been testing a Wi-Fi wand called Ama-
zon Dash that simplifies barcode scanning. Such capa-
bilities could be included in the Amazon phone to
improve on current barcode scanning apps. Combine
that with Amazon s same-day grocery service Amazon
Fresh, currently in testing in Seattle, Los Angeles and
San Francisco, and grocery shopping could be drastically
simplified. Rather than dragging a shopping cart through
aisles---or even scrolling through a list of products
online---a quick wave of the phone in your pantry could
have all your groceries at your doorstep within hours.
4. Free streaming video
IDC s Llamas suggests one of the phone s selling
points could be a free ad-supported version of Amazon s
current instant Video service, which is included in the
US$99 per year Prime membership. The hypothetical
service could be viewed on the phone, a Kindle or on
Amazon s Fire TV but not elsewhere like Xbox or Roku,
he says, which could be a selling point for the phone.
5. Competitive pricing
Menezes at Gartner, speculates that the phone could
be offered on different price tiers. One tier could be
a one-time payment for the phone that offers Amazon s
apps and services but a limited number of other features.
A higher price tier could feature a monthly bill and a
phone with more bells and whistles.
It s difficult to be competitive on price in the cutthroat
phone market. But as Amazon has shown with its
tablets, the company is willing to deliver high-quality
hardware at a loss in order to undercut competitors
like Apple and put its devices in the hands of people
who will use them to buy Amazon s goods and services.
The price of oil remained near US$104
a barrel Thursday as investors weighed
the upheaval in Ukraine against a big
increase in US oil supplies.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark
US crude for May delivery was up 14 cents
to US$103.90 a barrel in electronic trading
on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The
Nymex contract rose 1 cent on Wednes-
Trading was somewhat cautious ahead
of a long weekend---the market will be
closed on Good Friday, one of only three
days a year in which oil is not traded either
electronically or through open outcry.
The market was otherwise contained by
Tensions remained over Ukraine, where
pro-Russian militants clashed with Ukrain-
ian forces in the country s east as authorities
tried to reassert control over a region where
some are pushing to secede and join Rus-
sia.Officials from the US, Russia, Ukraine
and the European Union were meeting in
Geneva on Thursday for negotiations aimed
at persuading Russia to back off in Ukraine
following its annexation of Crimea. Traders
worry that Russia s actions could be met
with sanctions that disrupt exports of the
country s oil and gas.
But that upward impetus for oil prices
was offset by the US Energy Department s
weekly supply report Wednesday. It showed
an increase of ten million barrels of crude
oil, the largest in 13 years, on higher domes-
tic production and imports.
"Crude oil stocks continue to build up,
raising concerns about a possible slowdown
in the US oil demand," said Myrto Sokou
at Sucden Financial Research in London.
"However, the recent robust US economic
data seem to show signs of recovery in the
US market prospects."
Brent crude, an international benchmark
for oil, was down seven cents at US$109.53
a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in
In other energy futures trading in New
York, natural gas was down 0.1 cent to
US$4.529 per 1,000 cubic feet.
critical of new bank tax
Oil stays near US$104 a barrel
In this photo taken on April 16, vehicles are parked outside a factory of SGMW, a joint venture between Chinese carmakers and
General Motors in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China's automakers are the underdogs heading into next week's Beijing
auto show, where foreign and domestic brands will jostle for attention in a crowded market. Facing intense competition from General
Motors, Volkswagen and other global rivals, local brands such as Chery, Geely and SUV maker Great Wall have seen sales and market
share shrink this year while China's overall market grew. (AP PHOTO)
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