KINGSTON — Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, says the Government is still holding consultations with stakeholders regarding discretionary waivers, in tandem with ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiations.
"That whole issue is something that is under discussion in relation to the current negotiations that are ongoing with the IMF. Coming out of that consultation, the final position in terms of what and how waivers will be affected, will be forthcoming,” Mr. Vaz said, at yesterdays post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
The Minister was responding to questions regarding how the pending ratification of the 2008 and 2010 amendments to the IMF Articles of Agreement and the 14th general review of quotas, would affect the granting of discretionary waivers.
He acknowledged that the ratification would have “some sort of effect” on waivers, but stressed that the government was not trying to skirt the provision in its Letter of Intent to the IMF for the Stand-by Agreement, which speaks to a freeze on discretionary waivers.
The Minister pointed out that until the proposed tax reforms are completed, there remains a necessity for discretionary waivers of some sort to be allowed. "The quantum and the amount is what is in question, but the fact of the matter is, until such time as the reforms are put in place, it will continue to be an issue that has to be discussed," Mr. Vaz said.
Last year, the Ministry of Finance announced a set of interim measures governing the granting of waivers, which came into effect on November 15. The Ministry stated that these measures would be “in force and will remain so until a long-term policy and strategy has been finalised."
"The interim measures being implemented constitute an extension or continuation of this strategy to develop a long term waiver policy and strategy," the Minister said.
The freeze and reduction of all discretionary waivers mean that no new discretionary waiver categories will be considered or approved between August 1, 2010 and the date of the adoption of a new Tax Waiver/Incentive Policy and Strategy.
Cabinet agreed that Jamaica will officially accept the amendments to the Articles of Agreement of the IMF, and that in acceptance of the amendments, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Audley Shaw, would ask the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to prepare an Order amending the schedule of the Bretton Woods Agreement to incorporate the amendments into Jamaican law. An appropriate Ministry Paper will be laid in Parliament, Mr. Vaz informed.
The Bretton Woods agreement is a landmark system for monetary and exchange rate management, developed at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944. Major outcomes of that conference included the formation of the IMF.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter