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Small business association welcomes decision to save Junior Stock Exchange

Published:Saturday | April 2, 2016 | 4:00 AMJovan Johnson

The Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) has welcomed the decision of the Andrew Holness administration to maintain the incentives for companies enlisting on the Junior Stock Exchange.

The incentives were scheduled to expire yesterday, but Prime Minister Holness used the occasion to announce that they would continue. He was speaking at a meeting with entrepreneurs whose entities are listed on the Junior Stock Exchange.

Hugh Johnson, president of the SBAJ, said that the decision "augurs well for the development of the small business sector. The level of resources that have been garnered by companies and how they have expanded should be encouraged and not destroyed as proposed".

IMF ARRANGEMENT

The business leader also noted that the previous administration's position on the Junior Stock Market was influenced by the arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"It was an IMF conditionality which was tweaked. It's not that (the Government) was against it. It was a catch-22 situation. This new administration, they are adamant that they are not moving it," Johnson told The Gleaner.

In 2013, the Government had introduced a transition period for the phasing out of the special scheme of income tax incentives enjoyed by companies listed on the junior market.

But in January, Dr Peter Phillips, the then finance minister, told the Parliament that there were no plans to phase out the Junior Stock Market. He was responding then to concerns that the junior market benefits would not be available to any new company after April 1 this year, and that once the period of tax relief expired for those already listed, the junior market would effectively disappear.

Launched in 2009, the Junior Stock Market was established to encourage and facilitate the development of smaller companies, particularly newer enterprises, by enabling them to raise equity.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com