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Tax reform white paper to be tabled with budget

Published:Friday | March 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

A white paper on tax reform is to be tabled in Parliament at the same time that the estimates of expenditure for fiscal year 2012/13 are presented, Finance, Planning and the Public Service Dr. Peter Phillips announced yesterday.

"We have just concluded the public hearings on tax reform and the tax reform committee is now considering the recommendations to make a report to the full house," Phillips said, while addressing a Jamaica Exporters Association function at the Terra Nova Hotel, St. Andrew yesterday.

The tabling of the white paper will signify the clear intention of the Government to pass new tax laws.

Dr. Phillips said a review of the recommendations will involve a lot of intense technical work and we are working with a very urgent time-table."

In May 2011, a green paper on tax reform was tabled in parliament with a view to simplifying the tax structure while expanding the tax base.

Since then, a number of stakeholders have made representation to the parliamentary committee, either defending sector interests or arguing against some of the proposals.

Reform of the tax system is part of the conditions outlined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the US$1.27 billion standby agreement, and according to Dr. Phillips, without it the Government will not be able to access much needed funds from multilateral institutions.

On Wednesday, an IMF mission concluded its article four consultation and initiated discussions on an economic support programme for Jamaica.

The discussions, Dr. Phillips said, will continue in April with a view to reaching a new medium term agreement. "Discussions will continue in April with a detailed focus on the precise outline of the programme ," he said.

The Minister also announced that a tax package which fits into the framework of the tax reform proposals will also be presented alongside the budget.

But he did not say whether this will include new taxes. In January, Dr. Phillips had said that no new taxes were expected.