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Jamaicans lose priority for jobs in economic zones bill

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2015 | 12:41 PMDaraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
In opening the debate on the Special Economic Zones bill, Hylton took his pen from his pocket and said that word "Jamaican" in the legislation will be replaced with "CARICOM".

A provision in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) bill for Jamaicans to be given first priority in landing jobs has been amended.

Industry minister Anthony Hylton, in piloting the bill in the House of Representatives today, gave no reason for the change.

He only said the word "Jamaican" is to be deleted and replaced with "CARICOM".

The SEZ framework is a major piece of legislation for the positioning of Jamaica as a logistics hub economy.

It makes provision for the creation of zones such as dry docks, bunkering facilities, air maintenance and repairs or tank farms.

"The developer shall first offer employment to Jamaican nationals before other nationals, subject to those Jamaican nationals meeting the requirements of the developer, including requirements regarding skills and competencies," the employment clause as printed in the bill read.

But in opening the debate on the bill, Hylton took his pen from his pocket and said that word Jamaican will be replaced with CARICOM.

The bill is seeking to repeal the Jamaica Export Free Zone Act and put in place a framework for the operations of Special Economic Zones.

Among other things, entities operating in SEZ will pay 12.5 per cent income tax instead of the standard 25 per cent income tax rate for businesses.