Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Government Senator Lambert Brown on Friday launched a broadside against elements in the private sector, saying the laziness of some sections has caused them not to be able to take advantage of business opportunities locally.
"They need to be bold, they need to see the opportunities," Senator Brown said.
According to the senator, sections of the private sector have failed to take advantage of the trade opportunities under the Caribbean Basin Initiative with the USA and are also failing to exploit the potential of the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe.
He was contributing to the debate on the Income Tax (amendment) Act 2012.
The way is now clear for multinational companies to set up their group head offices in Jamaica and see their foreign employees benefit from income tax reprieve.
The Senate last Friday passed the Income Tax (amendment) Act 2012 without amendment. The bill was earlier passed in the House of Representatives.
But Alexander Williams took issue with Brown's characterisation of local private sector as being lazy.
"It may well be that the incentives that are in place might not be enough to encourage a local private sector to invest," Williams said.
He also said he shared the hope that there will be an "influx of multinational corporations", but government member A.J. Nicholson questions his exuberance.
Far too wide
"Influx! Who expressed that hope?" Nicholson asked.
"The word influx is far too wide," Nicholson said, arguing that there are many countries ahead of Jamaica seeking to mobilise such foreign investment.
"What we want is our fair developmental share ... . We are not going to hang our hats too high and claim we are going to have an influx," he added.
Opposition Senator Dr Christopher Tufton, while supporting the bill, said there are other elements to the investment strategy that are going to be important.
"The Government ought to link the legislation to a broader articulation of an investment strategy," Tufton said.
At least 30 per cent of the posts must be filled by Jamaicans.
"We have a responsibility to prepare our workers so they can conform and perform at First-World standards," opposition Senator Kaval Gayle said.
He also said the Government also has a responsibility to protect workers, and that the companies conform to Jamaican labour standards.
Leader of Opposition Business Arthur Williams said he supported the bill but said he hoped it is not signed into law by the governor general until the accompanying regulations are in place.
Justice Minister Mark Golding, who piloted the bill, said he has been advised that the regulations should be in place by the end of the month.
The Memorandum of Objects and Reasons of the bill states: "It is hoped that, by facilitating the establishment of group head office companies in Jamaica, other companies will realise the economic benefits, including increased foreign investments, access of alternative capital providers, new markets and the creation of new jobs."
The bill outlines the activities which a company or other corporate body that operates in Jamaica, must perform to qualify for group head office status.
The activities outlined are the supervision, management or monitoring the operations of the company; accounting, data processing, engineering and other technical support; and centralised treasury management and similar funding activities.