JIS News

Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Sharon Crooks, has commended the fiscal authorities for their quick response in ensuring that the tax and duty relief announced in the Government’s stimulus package, have been passed on to the various stakeholders.
The revenue foregone, based on the stimulus package, is estimated at $862 million for the period January to March, 2009.
The stimulus package, which took effect on January 1, 2009 includes: . Reduction in transfer tax, from 6 % to 5% (at a cost of $170 million) . Reduction in the General Consumption Tax (GCT) in the Tourism Sector, from 8.25% to 4.125% (at a cost of $432 million) . Depreciating cost of capital equipment, from two years to one year (at a cost of $13 million) . Removal of Customs User Fees (CUF) from capital goods and raw materials (at a cost of $114 million) . Increase in the GCT threshold, from $1 million to $3 million (at a cost of $40 million) . Abolishment of tax on dividends by locally owned companies (at a cost of $10 million) . Christmas duty relief, which amounted to some $84 million
Mrs. Crooks emphasised that the current economic situation and the Government’s response have sharpened the Ministry’s focus on the maintenance of adequate revenue flows, while being prudent and efficient in handling expenditure. This process must be underpinned by the transformation of the culture of the Ministry and by extension the rest of the public service, to one that is totally business-like and professionally oriented, while carrying out its economic and social responsibilities.
While admitting that the face of the pubic sector is changing, the Financial Secretary observed that there needs to be a more modernised public sector, no longer focussed on long service or tenure, but rather on performance, and that performance must translate into productivity.
“We need to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. To obtain efficiency and effectiveness, we are going to need qualified people and not only qualified people, but qualified people with the right attitude,” Mrs. Crooks said.
“We want the Civil Service to be once again, the place of choice of work, not the place where you come to relax, where you come to get job security, but the place where you come, because you want to contribute to nation building. It requires a lot of work, a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication to country, long hours,” she added.
Mrs. Crooks emphasised that fiscal management must now be approached equally from the expenditure side, as it is from the income side. “We must ensure that all Ministries and Departments seek the requisite value for every dollar spent, whether it is in the form of salaries and wages or procurement of goods or services. As far as revenue goes, a reform of the tax administration is underway, to make the collection of revenue more effective and inclusive of all those that ought to pay taxes,” she said.
“This will make the process equitable and fair. Importantly also, the system must provide more options as to where and how taxpayers can comply, by paying taxes and submitting returns,” the Financial Secretary argued.
She said that public sector management ought to differ from private sector management only in its content, not in terms of professionalism, efficiency, effectiveness, customer service, planning and monitoring.
“There is also a greater need for the civil servant to honour and respect the integrity and transparency that is demanded in serving the public. While adequate financial regulations are instituted, we will refocus our attention on the maintenance of fiscal stability and the achievement targets. Where necessary, we will be tightening the regulatory framework with respect to issues, such as financial transactions monitoring. Ultimately, this approach will ensure confidence of all stakeholders, investors, workers and the consumer in the management and stability of our economy, particularly during this challenging period,” Mrs. Crooks said.