Business

Tourism ministry aims to pinpoint value of entertainment industry in Jamaica

KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014    

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THE MINISTRY of Tourism and Entertainment hopes to finally pinpoint the value of the local entertainment industry.

It is implementing a National Entertainment Registry (NER) to authenticate persons within the industry covering production of music; film; visual and performing arts; and animation.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica estimated that the recreational, cultural and sports sector accounted for 2.7 per cent of GDP in 2012.

But grouping radio and television broadcasters as well as cable TV services and the movie theathre makes it difficult to hone in on local entertainment production.

"We want to be able to say how much the creative industry contributes to GDP," said Gillian Wilkinson-McDaniel, senior director of entertainment at the ministry. "It's not a way to tax them, it is a way to really get data as well as to serve the creative industries.

"Once we get the data on the various sectors, then we are lobbying and advocating on behalf of the creative industries."

McDaniel reckons that the programme can facilitate a direct link between how many persons are working in each sector; what they are contributing; and how much they contribute.

Under the registry, the industry will be able to benefit from tax incentives from the Omnibus Tax Legislation, including income tax relief, relief from customs duty and zero-rated general consumption tax (GCT) status in relation to imports.

The NER is also intended to facilitate free movement of entertainment practitioners within Caricom and provide access to a Regional Cultural Exemptions Regime.

But the ministry still has a long way to go. It has been a challenge getting persons to register for the programme.

"It's not as good as we want it to be, although registration is free," said McDaniel, who declined to give an indication of the current number of persons who have signed up. "We definitely would want much more registration but we are getting there slowly."

Among those who have been registered, party promoters make up the majority.

That's because they will be able to secure amusement licences.

Last year, the total number of licences issued by the parish councils amounted to 22,929, an increase of 2,085 relative to 2012. The ministry is confident that there will also be an increase in the number of licences issued under the programme.

However, party promoters don't stand to get the most benefit from registration.

"While there has been a push for promoters to be registered, truthfully it's those persons who produce that stands to gain the most on this registry," McDaniel said. Producers who import equipment can take advantage of the new tax incentive regime, which replaces the musician's 'tools of trade' and the 'motion picture recognition' status from the previous legislation.

"All of those incentives that the creative industry formally had, it now has been rolled into the new regime and registering is just the baseline for accessing the incentives."

The registry, which will take place in three phases, is currently in phase two. That involves continuous feedback and consultation from stakeholders about the effectiveness of the NER application site.

The ministry also hopes to start sensitising the nation about the programme by the end of August, followed by phase three which entails full implementation of the programme.

"I think some have not registered because they don't know about it and so the onus is on us to properly inform them about what it is, what it does,"

she said.

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