Mon | Aug 20, 2018

TEF writes off $104m from cruise-ship operators

Published:Wednesday | October 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM

A.C. Countz, Guest Columnist

Responsible Officials:

Minister: Wykeham McNeill

Chairman: Noel Sloley

Other Directors: Trevor Riley (deputy chairman), Evelyn Smith, John Lynch, Gregory Burrowes, Shauna Trowers, Maxine Henry-Wilson, Janice Allen, Gregory Lawrence and Harry Maragh.

Executive Director: Clyde Harrison

Thanks to Clyde Harrison of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) for sending the March 2013 accounts.

We would hope that Chairman Noel Sloley could authorise making available the March 2014 accounts rather than waiting for the accounts to be tabled in Parliament. He could phone Minister McNeil and get him to make his Ministry functional, so that these accounts can be released.

The TEF has annual revenue of $3.6 billion, most of which comes from a head tax on each traveller coming into Jamaica.

The tax is US$20 per passenger in respect of travel by air and US$2 in respect of travel by sea. The TEF continues to indicate that they have always had difficulty collecting the payments in relation to cruise-ship passengers.

During the year 2013, TEF's income increased, but it is experiencing grave financial difficulties with collections. TEF has had to write off $104 million in bad debts from cruise ships in the two years to March 2013 and a further $12 million in relation to airline passengers. Additionally, receivables do take a long time to get collected. As at March 2013, TEF had over $150 million of receivables impaired, of which the vast amount related to cruise-ship passengers.

The TEF, started in May 2005, aims to implement projects and programmes which impact the growth of the tourism industry. Large major projects are JTB overseas marketing $1.7 billion) Montego Bay, Falmouth ($368m) and Ocho Rios ($161 million).

TEF paid out $175 million for JAMVAC airlift support. The highest paid staff member is the project director, who earned $7.2 million. All the directors combined earned just over $1 million. This seems modest payment.

Why does TEF lie down and apparently let itself be treated so badly by the cruise-ship operators? Surely TEF should be taking strong legal action against the cruise-ship operators? Jamaica is not well served by TEF not taking its responsibilities more seriously.

How can the government be stepping up its efforts to collect taxes from Jamaican corporations and individuals while at the same time giving a 'bly' to cruise-ship operators. Does Chairman Sloley or Minister McNeil not have the strength to collect the passenger tax due? If not, they should be replaced quickly.

This column awaits a statement from TEF explaining what action is being taken. One should expect a major change shown in the 2014 accounts.

JANAAC cash hoard

Chairman: Dr Cliff Riley

Acting CEO: Claudette Brown.

Last accounts: March 2012 audited by BDO

The principal activity of Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) is accreditation service to laboratories, inspection bodies and other certified bodies and the training of personnel in laboratory practices and standards.

Its income amounted to $73 million, expenses $50 million and surplus $22 million, according to its accounts. The agency has a net worth of $239 million. It does not pay taxes.

Income is partly made up of part of the standards compliance fees collected by the Jamaica Customs Department. Other income is largely interest income. JANAAC staff costs $28.6 million; it employs 11 persons.

Director's remuneration is $0.5 million.

JANAAC is sitting on a large amount of cash of $234 million - more than prior year's $208 million. Cash resources are equivalent to almost five years' gross expenditure. Why does this company hold all this money?

This column reviews the audited and in-house accounts and reports of companies and entities owned or influenced by Government.

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