KINGSTON — The Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) has adopted a joint approach with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) in crafting recommendations to the Jamaica Parliamentary Tax Committee.
This was disclosed by President of the JCTU, Lloyd Goodleigh, during his presentation at the second meeting of the Committee, held at the Ministry of Finance and Planning, on November 2.
Mr. Goodleigh explained that discussions with that organisation are well underway and while there may not be consensus on all positions to be submitted, the joint submission would comprehensively reflect negotiated agreements.
Committee Chairman, Finance and Planning Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, welcomed the approach, describing it as a good move which could help to establish broad parameters on tax reform, going forward.
In the meantime, Mr. Goodleigh presented what he called a “philosophical” approach to tax reform from the perspective of organised labour.
Citing the Matalon Report on tax reform, he spoke to weaknesses in the current tax structure, such as being ad hoc, with a narrow tax base, and which reflected horizontal inequalities. He argued that an appropriate tax regime should not only address these issues, but should provide for social protection of workers, human resource development and an explicit employment policy to underpin a social security system.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, argued that agriculture has a social welfare component, especially in rural Jamaica, and therefore merited special tax considerations.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Buddan, while batting for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector, invited the Committee to treat with issues that will facilitate small businesses, particularly through the introduction of a “flat tax in support of the estimated 93,000 micro and small enterprises,” many of which operate outside the tax net.
During the first sitting of the Committee two weeks ago, Mr. Shaw advised that the PSOJ has engaged a tax consultant to work with its members to "come up with a clearer position from the productive sector," and the disclosure at the meeting on November 2 that the JCTU has been engaged in those deliberations, indicates a broadening of that process.
The Jamaica Parliamentary Tax Committee was established in July and has been calling on business and professional organisations, civic groups, trade unions, academics, workers and the general public to submit, in writing, their comments and suggestions on the Tax Reform Green Paper.
The nine-member committee is chaired by Mr. Shaw and include Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague; Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett; Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Hon. Dr Ken Baugh; Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton; Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Dr. Peter Phillips; former Finance Minister, Dr. Omar Davies; and Opposition Members of Parliament, Fitz Jackson and Anthony Hylton.
Included in the Green Paper are proposals designed to foster a system that is simple, efficient, equitable and fair to stimulate economic growth, while yielding adequate amounts of revenue.
At the end of the consultations, the feedback will result in a White Paper reflecting a policy position to be promulgated and implemented in 2012. The Committee is scheduled to meet again in another two weeks.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter