JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has said that his Ministry has teamed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to reduce the number of import waivers granted for agricultural produce.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has been working closely with me in cutting down on the number of waivers that importers want from the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
He added that for agricultural items that can be produced in Jamaica, no tax waivers will be granted to allow them to be imported into the island.
“What we have decided is, what we can produce here in Jamaica we are not going to grant any waivers for it,” he said.
He noted that due to the decrease in the granting of tax waivers for agricultural produce, there has been a marked improvement in the supply of local vegetables, as well as other agricultural produce to the hotel and supermarket trades.
“We have seen a marked improvement in the growth of vegetables supplied to our hotels and our supermarkets islandwide, and across a wide range of agricultural produce,” he said.
He also noted that there has been a marked increase in domestic agriculture over the fiscal year.
“Over the fiscal year, agriculture is one of the stars. It will be growing over ten per cent on an annualised basis. Whereas we have seen declines in other areas of the economy, agriculture is holding its own,” he said.
Mr. Shaw suggested that agriculture and agro processing were the way forward as substitutes for the fall out in the bauxite sector, and that the processed food sector was an area that has potential for tremendous export growth.
He said that it is estimated that Jamaica is currently exporting only ten per cent of its ethnic foods to satisfy the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada, United States, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.
“They want ten times more [than] what we are selling them now. If we step up to the plate, it could dwarf the bauxite industry and we can use processed foods to move us forward,” he stated.

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