Tuesday 18 June, 2019

JCC wants Gov't to fast-track tax reform to accelerate economic growth

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce 2nd Vice President Ian Nieta (left) and  JCC President Lloyd Distant (right) at the chambers AGM last  year.

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce 2nd Vice President Ian Nieta (left) and JCC President Lloyd Distant (right) at the chambers AGM last year.

President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Lloyd Distant, is imploring the government to move quickly to reform the country's tax laws with a view to driving economic growth.

Distant made the plea on Wednesday as he addressed a Lions Club of Kingston luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

“The JCC is of the view that we are still quite some distance away from having an optimal enabling environment, and that one of the key areas for attention is the establishment of a rational and simple income tax system,” Distant said.

According to Distant, the country continues to be constrained by a system of high direct taxation that penalizes a small sector of society and which includes a suite of nuisance taxes and fees.

“It is our contention that we must move towards indirect taxation and the revocation of taxation on dividends, the removal of the Asset Tax and the withdrawal of the Minimum Business Tax. Our membership has charged us with working toward the abolition, in the long-term, of income tax,” the chamber president stated.

Meanwhile, Distant also pointed to the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Kingston, as one way of driving economic growth.

“We have been convinced for years – and this has been borne out in countries worldwide, that downtown communities, particularly on waterfronts, can be major economic drivers,” Distant told the luncheon.

He said the chamber was cautiously optimistic that it is now seeing the early stages of the long-overdue redevelopment of the downtown Kingston business district.

“We had something of a stuttered start when Digicel erected its headquarters (downtown) and we expected more entities to set up facilities there. Now we are seeing not just office complexes such as Grace Kennedy or the Foreign Ministry but there is also new life after work hours right on the waterfront itself,” Distant noted.

“What is now urgently needed is for this growth to be extended and expanded northwards and westwards in particular, making its presence felt in the areas adjacent to Coronation Market for instance, and so creating an environment where shop-owners, consumers and vendors can co-exist in harmony,” he said.

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