THE EDITOR, Sir:
I recently imported a new piece of equipment that is required to better service our export market, which is most critical now. In the past, imported capital equipment was exempted from GCT under the 'Modernisation Programme'.
This was discontinued some years ago - a backward step - and importers are now required to pay the GCT upfront and reclaim it over a three-month period.
As a result, I had to take our approximately $760,000 out of my cash flow to pay the GCT. This amount of money is significant to a small manufacturer and could have been better spent in many other areas.
It does not stop there. Upon installation of the unit, we realised that a bracket was missing. It was sent to us by Fedex the following day. Cost of bracket: US$40. To my surprise, the customs charges to clear the shipment were in excess of J$8,000 - nearly twice the cost of the bracket. The customs user fee (CAF) was J$5,000.
This is absolute madness! How can anyone continue to do business in an environment like this? Are we going to tax the productive sector out of business? How does the Government expect the sector to grow if it keeps extracting from it upfront?
Each time these questions are asked, I am told, "It is the IMF." I find it hard to believe that the IMF would purposely want to stifle the growth of the productive sector in the short term and not realise that it will be to its detriment down the road.
The current policy will only serve to further stagnate the economy and prevent the productive sector from realising its full potential. One must realise that the majority of businesses in Jamaica are small and medium enterprises which have limited resources. These high costs will ultimately impact their operations.
This business of taking everything from the front end is not sustainable and needs urgent revision if we are serious about growing our economy.
Gray's Pepper Products