The Government has programmed amendments to key pieces of legislation during the 2021/22 fiscal year, as part of efforts to facilitate Jamaica’s swift recovery from the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
These include the Urban Renewal (Tax Relief) Act, Financial Administration and Audit Act, Financial Services Commission Act, and Income Tax Relief (Large-scale Projects and Pioneer Industries) Act.
This was announced by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, who delivered the Throne Speech during the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament for 2021/22 at Gordon House, on Thursday (February 18).
The speech was presented under the theme ‘Building Forward… Stronger Together’.
The Governor-General said the legislative amendments are intended to further create a supportive environment for business and investment.
“A swift recovery can only occur in a stable macroeconomic environment with a supportive legislative and regulatory framework,” he underscored.
The Governor-General said the Government has been proactive in facilitating appropriate responses to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Notably, he said, was an economic policy response, inclusive of $15 billion in tax cuts and the provision of approximately $20 billion for the COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme.
This, the Governor-General further pointed out, does not include billions spent on health expenditures and support of public bodies, while describing the overall intervention as “unprecedented in magnitude and impact”.
“The CARE Programme represented the largest social intervention programme in our history, with benefits extending to a wide range of individuals and businesses with over 500,000 applicants,” he said.
The Governor-General said Parliamentary approval was also obtained to suspend the fiscal rules for 2020/21 and defer the target date for attaining a debt-to-gross-domestic-product (GDP) ratio of 60 per cent, by two years, from fiscal year 2025/26 to 2027/28, to accommodate the impact of the pandemic.
He pointed out that Jamaica is among only a few countries globally that have been able to maintain debt sustainability throughout the pandemic.
“Our ability to achieve this is directly attributable to the strong base and buffers built from our fiscal discipline over the last several years,” he said.