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Manufacturers, private sector bigwigs 'eagerly' awaiting meeting with Kellier over sugar tax

Published:Wednesday | April 29, 2015 | 1:28 PM
Brian Pengelley

President of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) Brian Pengelley, says he is eagerly awaiting a meeting proposed by Agriculture Minister, Derrick Kellier, on the impending imposition of a tax on imported refined sugar.

Imported refined sugar is one of the main ingredients of many manufactured products, particularly in the beverage industry.

Speaking at a press conference at the JMA's office in downtown Kingston, Pengelley noted that there has to be another way to support the sugar industry.

According to him, taxation will only create negative repercussions for poor people of Jamaica.

Chief executive officer of LASCO, Lascelles Chin, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, William Mahfood, and private sector leaders are attending the press conference.

Last week, Kellier, announced that a cess will be imposed on imported refined sugar as part of plans to restructure the regime governing the importation of that product.

The decision has angered manufacturers, with declarations coming from the JMA and the PSOJ that members will not pay the tax on the product.

However, some stakeholders have come out in support of the move.

Chairman of Worthy Park Estates Limited, Peter McConnell, says the decision is an attempt to reduce the impact of falling international prices on local producers.

The Jamaica Cane Products Sales Limited, Karl James, Pan Caribbean Sugar Company Limited and the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers' Association have also voiced their support for the move.

In a statement yesterday, the Agriculture Ministry said it remains open to continue the dialogue with the JMA and other stakeholders to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.