PSOJ, JCC hail business stimulus
Two of the country’s most powerful business associations, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), have come out in praise of the Budget for fiscal year 2019-20, alluding to the finance minister’s presentation in Parliament on Thursday as “business friendly” and “pro-growth”.
Finance Minister Nigel Clarke announced a raft of tax-relief measures aimed at boosting economic activity by promoting business start-ups and removing fiscal barriers to commerce as part of a $14-billion stimulus package.
“We are particularly heartened by his stated intent to carry forward the proper and appropriate governance protocols for the management of public bodies and his plainly stated commitment to public-sector transformation during the coming year,” a statement from PSOJ President Howard Mitchell read.
Mitchell has pledged his organisation’s cooperation with and support for Clarke’s mission of tackling inequality.
“We are a people of destiny, a nation of purpose, with a unique role to play in this world, and we believe that together as one nation, under God, we can achieve those goals,” Mitchell said.
The PSOJ president noted that as the country moves into a post-IMF arrangement, “We are once again comforted that the institutional framework of the Fiscal Council and central bank independence will provide the protection for fiscal prudence and discipline as Jamaica moves to the 60 per cent debt-to-GDP target in 2025-2026.
“This, without a doubt, will lead to increased economic activity and increased growth of the Jamaican economy. We are convinced that the minister fully understands the fundamentals of change and transition that those 10 years of sacrifice for fiscal reform have positioned our Jamaican society to achieve and that he acknowledges the need for unity of national purpose in significant areas of development for us to finally gain economic and social sovereignty,” he said.
STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
In the meantime, the JCC said that the announced abolition of the minimum business tax, the abolition of the asset tax for non-financial businesses, and the movement of the GCT threshold from $3 million to $10 million are steps in the right direction.
The JCC further stated that the reduction of the transfer tax on real estate transaction from five per cent to two per cent, and the replacement of the ad valorem stamp duty with a fixed rate of $5,000 per transaction, are among many initiatives for which it has long advocated.
“We are confident that they will be well-received by the business community at large, although as a group, we would have preferred if the removal of the asset tax (for non-financial businesses) is applied to all companies.
“We are also pleased that the net reduction in taxes announced was framed as a return of benefits to the Jamaican people for their sacrifice over the years, which has led us to an improving economy and allowed for a reduction in the primary surplus requirement from seven per cent to six and half per cent,” the JCC said.