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Exporters disappointed - JEA charges that finance minister gave no clear signal to grow the export sector and economy

Published:Sunday | March 15, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Finance Dr Peter Phillips gestures during his Budget Debate presentation last Thursday.

The Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA) has expressed concern that the Budget presented by Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips has no clear and definitive initiatives to support the growth of Jamaica's export sector.

According to the JEA, it is mindful of the often-stated need for the country to earn its way out of its problems and it expected the Government to demonstrate its commitment to this objective during the finance ministers' presentation.

"The JEA believes that consultation with the sector prior to the presentation of the budget would have resulted in a budget which is more focused on export-led growth, which is the only sustainable course for the Jamaican economy," said the group in a release issued late Friday.

According to the JEA, it believes "it is impossible for the country to tax its way out of our problems, as sustained economic growth in the Jamaican context must be export driven".

"The exporters are of the view that the tax measures put forward by the minister are regressive, moves the country further away from its own stated objective for tax reform, and will negatively impact the productive sector and the poor, who will continue to bear a disproportionate burden of taxation without the means to mitigate it."

The JEA has called on the Government for specific budgetary support for the implementation of key aspects of the National Export Strategy "to which the government has indicated its commitment, but which, to date has gotten no substantial budgetary allocation to support its implementation".

The exporters have also demanded "the maintenance of specific incentives to the productive sector, including either the Modernisation of Industry Programme, or a similar programme, to mitigate the extremely hostile environment that exists in Jamaica for production for exports".

In addition, the JEA says there needs to be a refocusing of critical public-sector institutions to support the productive sector.

"The JEA board notes that had the budget targeted even 0.5 per cent more growth, the Government would earn substantially more revenue than is currently expected from the new taxes imposed by the minister.

"Exporters would have liked the Government to have taken very specific actions to reverse the continuing decline in our exports and facilitate sustained export growth. This would have sent a signal that the Government is serious about Jamaica earning its way in the world and making Vision 2030 a reality."