Senator Williams says Tax Reform will Create Fairer, Simpler System


Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams, says that the aim of tax reform is to ensure that Jamaica develops a system that is simple, fair and competitive.
“The system, we believe, should promote economic growth and act as a vehicle for development, and it should be efficiently administered,” Senator Williams said. He was speaking at the Tax Audit and Revenue Administration Post Graduate Diploma Programme’s graduation exercise, Thursday (June 11), at the Knutsford Court Hotel.
He said that a 2007 study done by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimated that 40 per cent of economic activity in Jamaica is unregistered and untaxed, and that tax exemptions and incentives have eroded half of the tax base.
The study also estimated that one per cent of the country’s businesses pay 71 per cent of the corporate income tax collected, and one per cent of registered entities account for 60 per cent of PAYE collected.
The State Minister said that the perception of most Jamaicans is that the tax regime is burdensome, complex and inequitable. He pointed out, however, that there were a number of benefits to be derived from comprehensive tax reform.
“A more simplified system will encourage local investment and formal business activity, while also making Jamaica a more attractive destination for foreign direct investments. Voluntary tax compliance will improve, because it would be easier to pay one’s taxes,” Senator Williams stated.
He said that tax reform should lead to increased revenue and improved central Government balances, with the spin-off effect including lower levels of public debt and more fiscal space to provide critical social services.
Senator Williams also noted that, in order to promote greater compliance and broaden the tax base, thereby lowering the proportion of unregistered activity, Jamaica needed to strengthen its institutional capacity for tax administration.
“This is important, because having a broader tax base will allow the Government more room to lower tax rates,” he said. He also encouraged the graduates to sharpen their focus, work hard and have professional integrity.
“The troubling times that we are going through and our desire to grow our way out of adversity, demand no less,” Senator Williams said.
Acting Director General, Tax Administration, Viralee Latibeaudiere, noted that the graduates have been prepared to perform as tax administrators, leaders in the business and, most importantly, as agents of change.
Twenty-five revenue agents graduated from the Tax Audit and Revenue Administration Post Graduate Diploma Programme, bringing to 530 the number of agents trained since the programme started in 1986.
The Tax Administration Services Department, in collaboration with the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), selects and trains tertiary graduates for a degree, or diploma in accounting, management studies, business administration or any other related disciplines.

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