Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, is anticipating significant accruable benefits to micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) stakeholders, from several measures being pursued for implementation by the government, to enhance growth and productivity within that sector.
Speaking at a post-Budget forum hosted by the MSME Alliance, at the University of Technology, St. Andrew, on the theme: ‘Financing MSME Entrepreneurial Development’, on July 5, Dr. Phillips assured that the administration is committed to expanding the sector, thereby positioning it to play a more integral role in helping to address critical challenges related to the economy, in particular, debt reduction, and job creation.
“A critical part of the solution is the micro, small and medium enterprises, because we have to grow our way out of this (debt) problem. And the most important thing about the MSME sector is that the bulk of the employment in the country comes from this sector,” he argued.
Dr. Phillips outlined several initiatives, which the Ministry’s Tax Policy Unit has been asked to spearhead, to assist the sector. These include, facilitating the provision of “appropriate” credits for research and development, and the application of innovations, training, and productivity enhancing measures.
“We consider it essential if we are to raise productivity in the country, and reward businesses for being innovative, that we need such a system of tax credits that will facilitate the essential modernisation of industry,” he added.
The Minister announced that “within a matter of weeks,” a joint submission from the Ministries of Finance; Industry, Investment and Commerce; and Justice, will be made to the Cabinet, aimed at streamlining the approvals process, and reduce the cost of doing business in Jamaica for MSMEs, and all other enterprises.
“For example, we don’t think it is necessary for anyone trying to establish a business to have to go to (different) places to get Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), National Housing Trust (NHT) arrangements; National Insurance Scheme (NIS) arrangements; and then the Company’s Office of Jamaica to get your certificate of registration. You should be able to go to one place and complete all the necessary pre-requisites,” he emphasised.
Dr. Phillips also cited the need to “empower” the National Land Agency (NLA) to assess and collect all applicable charges, inclusive of transfer tax, stamp duty, registration fees, when a transfer instrument is delivered to the titles office for registration. Additionally, he informed that a proposal for the establishment of a single development approval centre is also being considered.
The Minister also spoke of plans for the drafting of a Small Business Procurement Policy, mandating government ministries, departments and agencies to set aside 15 per cent of their procurement allocation, under the recurrent budget, to accommodate and facilitate small business access to the government procurement process.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter