Fri | Nov 16, 2018

JSEZA hits back at PSOJ criticisms it is bureaucratic, counter-productive

Published:Sunday | October 21, 2018 | 3:24 PM
Chairman of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) Metry Seaga.

 The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) has hit back at criticisms from Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President Howard Mitchell that its systems are bureaucratic and counter-productive.

As reported by The Gleaner on Friday, the PSOJ president criticised the JSEZA for the long time it takes to approve companies in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Mitchell, who was on a tour of several BPO outfits in Montego Bay, said he would be lobbying government to put in place a more efficient process at the JSEZA.

The BPO sector has been identified as one of the key drivers of economic growth for Jamaica, contributing US$450 million annually to the local economy. 

The SEZ Act was passed in January 2016 to replace the Jamaica Export Free Zone Act, and includes tax and Customs incentives for qualified entities.

Responding to the criticism JSEZA Chairman Metry Seaga, in a Letter to the Editor, said the authority had been using international best practices in establishing world-class Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to attract local and international investors who can generate the desired economic benefits for the country.

"This is why our application procedure requires companies to submit documents such as a health and safety plan for employees and the environs as well as a security plan, to protect employees from any harm," Seaga outlined in the letter.

"We cannot move our processes forward without documents such as these as that would result in the authority breaking the law, which is not something that we will do," he cautioned, adding that "the SEZ regime in Jamaica is moving into a new dispensation which sees a more coordinated, structured and strategic approach to the development and growth of industry in the country". 

The JSEZA chairman also urged companies which have not submitted the relevant documents to start doing so.

"We are asking companies who have not been doing so to put this in place to ensure that workers and our resources are protected," Seaga emphasised. 

 He said the JSEZA has been having dialogue with its major stakeholders, including members of the Business Process Outsourcing Industry Association of Jamaica, and will continue to do so.

"We will continue to encourage responsible and informed dialogue from all our stakeholders that allows our country to move forward. We welcome meaningful suggestions from our partners in both the public and private sectors and will continue to work with all parties to ensure that Jamaica experiences the economic growth and development which we know we are capable of experiencing," Seaga said.