Private sector wants oversight of tax reform implementation
Christopher Zacca, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, has proposed the retention of the working group on tax reform to oversee the implementation phase of the programme scheduled to kick off in the new year.
The Incentives Working Group (IWG) is a joint public-private committee that worked on the omnibus incentives policy.
"Based on the success of the IWG thus far, consideration should be given to its continuation to see through the implementation of the entire incentives reform programme, and also to work on policy formulation re further tax-reform measures to be taken under the economic-reform programme, so that we do not lose the momentum we are on," said Zacca on Wednesday.
"I have, in fact, written to the Hon Minister of Finance to this effect and am hoping for a positive response," he said in a presentation prepared for a forum on the new tax legislation hosted by the Ministry of Finance.
The IWG was chaired by economist Dennis Morrison and Financial Secretary Devon Rowe, while tax expert Brian Denning of PicewaterhouseCoopers Jamaica represented the finance ministry as its consultant. Its membership was drawn from companies and unions.
"This level of partnership shows that major changes in the country ... major changes can be effectively achieved through the alliance and cooperation between both the private and public sectors. We stand united in our wish to see the country grow and prosper, and we look forward to seeing more projects being implemented using this approach," Zacca said.
The existing incentives and tax-waiver regime was abolished and replaced "with a fairly minimal level of sectoral discord," said the PSOJ president.
He said that while the private sector recognises the tax bills as a good start, further tweaking was required - including a concern by the manufacturing sector over the definition of manufacturing, which requires constant monitoring and review.
"The issue of how to level the playing field for local manufacturers of GCT-exempt products, such as bread, also needs to be addressed," Zacca said.
The continued use of groups such as the IWG, he said, would also help Jamaica improve its Global Competitiveness ranking.
"This is an urgent matter, as we are in a global village where we have to compete with all other countries for capital and investment and our continuous poor performance in the annual rankings affects our ability to do so," Zacca said.