JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon Audley Shaw, has said that his Ministry is exploring the implementation of a treasury management system, to enable the Government to manage its assets and finances more efficiently.
Mr. Shaw said that streamlining the management of available resources would greatly assist in countering the challenges faced by the Accountant General Department in ensuring timely payments for expenses incurred by the administration. This was particularly important in light of the fall-out in revenues from key sectors, such as bauxite, and statutory returns, due to redundancies.
The Minister, who was speaking at the awards ceremony for the Jamaican leg of the Caribbean Organization of Tax Administrators (COTA) essay competition, at the Office Centre Building, downtown Kingston, on Thursday (December 3), said that one of the things needed in the management of Jamaica’s treasury is to ensure better returns from its assets and cash.
“It cannot be that the Accountant General is strapped for cash, but you have cash rich public sector companies out there on their own excursion with their own accounts, often awash with cash that they put into their treasury bills and certificates of deposit and the Government doesn’t have the benefit of even the short term use of those funds,” Mr. Shaw contended.
To this end, the Minister said the administration was looking “very seriously” at implementing treasury management, pointing out that models developed and currently being used by Canada and Ireland were being explored.
Turning to the matter of tax administration, Mr. Shaw said that this area has been undergoing changes in recent months, including initiatives which the Ministry has been pursuing to facilitate greater convenience to taxpayers. These include implementation of an on-line e-payment facility; a customer care centre in May Pen; a large taxpayer office in Constant Spring; and relocation of the Savanna-la-Mar tax office to more convenient facilities.
The on-line e-payment service, which came into effect on November 23, will facilitate electronic declaration, and monthly and annual payment of statutory deductions. The service was rolled out following a pilot phase, November 1-16, will afford users the convenience of filing their returns from their offices, homes, or any other location at any time.
Additionally, the service offers the benefit of reduced paperwork, and facilitates users submitting accompanying schedules via uploads from their payroll systems. Minister Shaw urged individuals to use this option.
“We want to encourage you to take advantage of it. There is a critical feature with the opportunity we offer, (in that) it is at no cost. To file your returns and to pay your deduction on line, will cost you (nothing),” he advised.
In this regard, the Finance Minister urged providers and intermediaries of the service to, as best as possible, reduce the cost to users.
“We must ensure that as we use e-payment services more and more, then those providers and intermediaries, the banks and so on, must understand that they too must bring down their cost of providing this service, because we are providing it free to you,” he said.
“We are, therefore, absorbing the costs that would normally have to be paid to the financial institutions. And I am sending a message to the financial institutions, cut down your costs,. we know that you can more than accommodate it. We are operating in a time of information technology and we must make it work for us in the best way possible,” the Minister added.
In addition to the e-payment facility, Mr. Shaw highlighted the tax reminder service, which he explained entails text messaging reminders to taxpayers of deadlines for filing their statutory returns.
He also spoke of plans to pursue improvements to other tax collectorates across the island in 2010/11. These include offices in Mandeville and Christiana, Manchester; Old Harbour, St. Catherine, and Cross Roads, Kingston.
Mr. Shaw reiterated that in the administration’s efforts to “re-scope” Jamaica’s administration structure, assistance had been sought of the United States Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He also pointed out that he has met with a team from the Commonwealth who are also assisting in various forms of tax administration.
Seventeen-year-old Campion College sixth form student, Remon Goulbourne, emerged winner of the Jamaica leg of this year’s staging of the COTA Essay Competition, which focused on the theme: “Building Efficient Tax Administration in promoting national and Regional Development.” Second and third places went to Garrett-Dijan Fairclough and Khamal Clayton, respectively, of Cornwall College in Montego Bay.
All three essays have been entered for judging in the COTA regional final, currently underway in Barbados. The winner is slated to be announced on December 31.

Skip to content