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Tax measures shrink outreach programmes

Published:Friday | January 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

HEAD OF Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at Carreras Limited, Christopher Brown, is warning that increased taxes on the cigarette industry is forcing the company to scale back on its range of community-outreach activities.

"The recent decision by the Government to once again increase the tax burden of companies like Carreras is bound to affect the scope and depth of our community engagement," said Brown.

At the same time, Brown warned that the imposition of special consumption tax on cigarettes is also likely to trigger increased illegal activities in the industry.

"I would like to take this opportunity to ask the Government to examine whether some of the measures announced may not threaten the viability of legal business entities such as ourselves, and give a new lease on life to those committed to operate in the illicit trade," Brown said.

Significant impact

According to the Carreras executive, the increased taxes would have a significant impact on the large list of community development programmes.

He said an estimated $9 billion will flow into Government's coffers this financial year.

Addressing the Conference of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica in St Ann yesterday, Brown said the Government must seriously consider whether it would be able to take over the community development programmes, which would inevitably fall by the wayside without sustained investment.

He said experience had shown that a government bureaucracy was hardly as effective as a private sector company in making targeted investments in community development.

Brown said Carreras was ready to continuously work with the Government through constructive and direct engagement to ensure that in the long run the Government received adequate revenues, with businesses remaining viable.

College scholarships

He noted that despite the challenges brought about by the heavy tax burden, Carreras decided to extend its involvement in tertiary education to include community college scholarships across Jamaica.

"We have answered the call, and having delivered those scholarships last year, we are announcing today our intention to continue with that partnership," declared Brown.

He said the Government must now play its part by providing incentives for companies whose record of community engagement was tailored to meet the needs of the communities.

"Today, when most persons think about our company, what immediately comes to mind is the very high level of taxes that we pass into the government coffers each year," Brown asserted.

"We have been known for our support for sports, through our former sponsorships of Premier League football, national cricket, and the Carreras Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards through the Carreras Sports Foundation for over 40 years," Brown said.