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Challenge them! - Digicel boss urges Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica to resist any new taxes

Published:Saturday | February 28, 2015 | 2:00 AM
Barry O'Brien, CEO of Digicel Jamaica.

Outgoing chief executive officer of Digicel Jamaica Barry O'Brien is urging the leadership of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) to "question and challenge" any additional taxation that might be levied on private-sector businesses by the Government.

The Digicel boss made this comment against the background of the upcoming Budget Debate and announcements to be made by Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips.

"In these challenging economic times, with a depreciating currency and reduced consumer purchasing power parity, businesses operate under tight financial constraints. So in the coming weeks and months, the voice of the PSOJ will become even more critical to ensure that there are no additional or increased taxes that will be levied on our already shrinking budgets," he declared.

O'Brien warned against imposing taxes on "tax-burdened sectors like telecommunications, banking, insurance, and manufacturing, which are among the biggest contributors to the Government of Jamaica's tax coffers.

According to O'Brien, telecoms customers are subject to triple taxation.

"While Digicel continues to drive value into the market, customers are subjected to paying tax three times, with a high rate of 25 per cent GCT on top-up, then the Government's special call tax of 40 cents on every minute of calls they make. To top it all, customers also pay 25 per cent GCT on the call tax itself," he noted.

"So the PSOJ has to be ready to question and challenge Jamaica's tax strategy. How is this being developed to continue to stimulate business and drive economic development?" O'Brien continued.

 

SIGNIFICANT TAXES

 

Since 2012, telecoms providers have, been subject to significant taxes, paying (along with the banking sector) corporate tax at a special high rate of 33 per cent combined with paying a US$.075 cent tax on every incoming-call minute from abroad.

"With any additional taxes being levied on the private sector, there is no doubt that this will impact how we continue to invest in and give back to Jamaica. Enough is enough, and I implore the Government of Jamaica not to tax us out of our ability to reinvest in Jamaica."

O'Brien's comments were made at the first PSOJ mingle to be held in downtown Kingston since the start of the year. The event was held on the 10th floor of Digicel's Ocean Boulevard headquarters on Thursday, February 26.

The event was attended by more than 250 key stakeholders and other business interests from Jamaica's private sector. Sponsors included Digicel, IAS Ltd, GraceKennedy, Scotiabank, Rainforest Seafoods, Worldwide Novelties and the Gleaner.

O'Brien also commended the PSOJ for being a vibrant and active voice for the private sector. "It is very important to have a platform where together we can work with the public sector to develop and drive the policies that will help us to continue to generate the revenues that we need to stay profitable and reinvest in this country, and ultimately, to create a flourishing economy."