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JCEA calls for return of tax exempt status for coffee farmers

Published:Monday | September 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association.

The Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association, JCEA, has written to Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries head Minister Audley Shaw asking for the elimination of taxes on farm profits.

In 2013, the tax exemptions on profits earned by farms that had 'Approved Farmer' status were eliminated.

JCEA president Senator Norman Grant said in the letter dated September 9 and obtained by the Financial Gleaner that this was "a significant blow to farmers, who face thin margins and much vulnerability (harsh weather, diseases/pests and market price volatility)".

He said the tax incentive removal has dented the ability of existing players to build their capital base to weather through tough periods as well as invest further to expand their businesses.

In addition to the tax-exemption, the association also wants a rebate on income tax to the extent of capital expenditure on expansion or modernisation projects, as well as duty concessions on coffee brewing equipment.

The association, claiming that coffee is an industry that employs over 15,000 Jamaicans, impacts over 75,000 family members, earns in excess of US$25 Million in export earnings, and contributes to food security, should be given special support.

Grant also called for the restructuring of the commodity cess on coffee to encourage value added production for export, as well as the licensing of importers of coffee into Jamaica, with the licence being granted upon confirmation that the criteria of importing equivalent amounts of Jamaican coffee is met.