Business Leaders Suggest Consultations

Photo: Mark Bell Small Businesses Association of Jamaica President, Hugh Johnson.

Story Highlights

  • Several business leaders have underscored the importance of consistent stakeholder consultations by the Government on policies being proposed prior to implementation.
  • They argued that this is imperative, particularly for policies deemed to be potentially far-reaching and impactful.
  • Their suggestion comes against the background of the Administration’s adjustments to the new property tax rates, introduced on April 1.

Several business leaders have underscored the importance of consistent stakeholder consultations by the Government on policies being proposed prior to implementation.

They argued that this is imperative, particularly for policies deemed to be potentially far-reaching and impactful.

Their suggestion comes against the background of the Administration’s adjustments to the new property tax rates, introduced on April 1.

Some persons have expressed concern at the level of increases, based on adoption of the 2013 valuation roll.

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Immediate Past President, Warren McDonald, in welcoming the adjustments, says consultations are necessary to secure the feedback that can assist in informing policy decisions.

“I think most people would agree that there is need for this prior to the implementation of taxation in particular. This is something that the private sector has been pushing for years… that before the Budget (is presented each year), some form of consultation be done so that stakeholders can have an input,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. McDonald argues that in relation to taxation, Jamaica has matured to the point where citizens should understand the Administration’s need for revenue inflows to run the country.

Consequent on this, he believes that persons would, more than likely, “have valid suggestions to give the Government, which could only help with that undertaking”.

Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) President, Metry Seaga, welcomes the adjustments, which he describes as a “responsible move in the right direction by the Administration”.

He argued, though, that the Government could have avoided the extent of opposition encountered, had prior consultations been held.

“I think, however, that the Government has shown that they are willing to listen to suggestions and proposals from all quarters… and that if there are further tweaks that need to be made to the regime, then we do so as we move along,” Mr. Seaga adds.

For his part, Small Businesses Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) President, Hugh Johnson, also commends the Government on adjusting the initial regime, pointing out that “we didn’t have to get there” if consultations were held.

While noting that the SBAJ is still uncomfortable with aspects of the provisions, “we commend the Administration for stepping back a little”.

“We hope that, in future, when Governments are thinking of implementing measures like these, they have the due level of consultations and analyse these before embarking on them,” he adds.

Mr. Johnson also underscores the need for timely land valuations to be undertaken to ensure that incremental revisions are effected, rather than significant increases.

His sentiments are shared by Mr. McDonald, who argues that timely adjustments will ensure that “the effect is not severe on the economy”.

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