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The necessary obligations of business people to file tax returns, submit GCT payments and apply for licences has become a little easier because of major achievements of the Information and Communications Technology Project. Under a loan agreement between the Government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in 2003 to improve Jamaica’s readiness for the network world in the public and private sectors and civil society, a major goal of the project was to allow UCT to reduce transaction costs.
Electronic Transaction ActOn April 2, 2007 the Electronic Transaction Act was passed which provided the legal foundation for banks and other institutions to extend services for online transactions and document sharing. This allowed the public and private sectors to approach online applications with greater confidence, especially in the areas of banking, bill payments, electronic filing of official documents and other e-transactions worldwide. Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI) The JTI participated in the trade facilitation system and now provides on-line approval of exporters. This facility is known as the Jamaica Trade Point.
This Electronic Transaction Act allows for confident electronic transactions and facilitated Jamaica Customs and the Trade Board to provide services that are fully paperless.
Key trade agencies of Government, including Customs and the Trade Board now offer their services via the Internet through the Trade Board Information System (TBIS) www.tradeboard.gov.jm. The entire application, payment and approval procedures for both import and export licences are now available on-line. This includes licences for the importation of motor vehicles. An additional benefit is that any applicant can track the status of his or her request at any time throughout the process, which makes the system more transparent, easily traceable and reduces the vulnerability to fraud.
Personal “Keys” for Tax Office TransactionsAny individual, corporation or computer system that conducts transactions requiring security such as the exchange of financial data should use a secure method of identification, one of which is the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), collaborated with the Government for the establishment of the PKI in Jamaica. This system allows any taxpayer to apply for and have secure identification and authentication when conducting transactions online. The PKI is equivalent to an “electronic passport”. The ITU supplied the electronic tokens which give each user a unique identity or key – a contribution in value of US$30, 000.00. The President of the ITU visited Jamaica and officially handed over the e-tokens to the Government.
Improvements in Tax Payment ComingOnline filing of the GCT and SCT from anywhere in the world was launched by the Tax Administration Department of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in October 2008. These taxes include General Consumption Tax (GCT), Special Consumption Tax (SCT), Education Tax, Income Tax (pay as you earn, or PAYE), Corporate and Self-Employment Tax, the National Insurance and payments to the HEART Trust Fund. Some tax payments have also been web-enabled including Property Tax, Traffic Tickets, GCT and SCT and already thousands of taxpayers have been utilising the facility via www.jamaicatax-online.gov.jm or for general tax info www.jamaicatax.gov.jm
However, to make the system more useable, one portal is needed with easy directions towards all documents, registrations and payment points. The ICT Project contributed approximately US$5 towards the upgrade of the FSL ICT infrastructure that will support the inter-agency portal. The framework for computerisation of the tax processes has involved re-engineering which incorporated recommendations for tax reform.
Twelve Community ICT Projects BoostedCommunity Access Points (CAPs) enable low-income citizens to gain access to information and services that are available online, such as employment exchange, market information, distance learning and technical assistance. The project worked with the communities to outfit 12 CAP sites at: Eastern Peace Centre – Windward Road Kingston; Olympic Gardens Community Centre Kingston; Santa Cruz Branch Library St. Elizabeth; Community Organisations for Management and Sustainable Development (COMAND) St. James; Jeffery Town Farmers’ Association St. Mary; Scientific Research Council; Annotto Bay High Vocational Training School; Geddes Mountain and Hamilton Mountain St. Mary; Bath – St. Thomas; Hills United Development Organisation (HUDO); Lucea Skill Training Centre Hanover and Ewarton Action Development Committee (ECODAC) St. Catherine. The project is embarking on establishing an additional 16 CAP sites in the current fiscal year.