Gov't should remove CET, lower GCT on digital devices

Gov't should remove CET, lower GCT on digital devices

Monday, October 26, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), the Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA), the Business Process Outsourcing Industry of Jamaica (BPIAJ), the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the Council of Voluntary and Social Services (CVSS), and the MSME Alliance are urging the Government of Jamaica to remove all duties and taxes on mobile and digital equipment, mobile phones, software, tablets, computers, and related accessories, peripherals and other digital devices for a period of at least 24 months.

We note that the Government of Trinidad just announced this measure in their budget two weeks ago, with no sunset date, as a bold tangible step to achieve their digital agenda and diversify their economy, and specifically to assist with the devices needed for remote schooling.

In their commentary on the measure, PricewaterhouseCoopers Trinidad and Tobago noted that, while normally relief is better addressed outside the tax regime, in this instance “immediate relief is critical in a time of crisis” and this measure “alleviates the administrative and logistical burden of reaching all vulnerable ones in our society”.

Our call is also an urgent response to the acceleration of the COVID-19 locally. The pandemic has made Internet connectivity as critical to modern life as electricity and water. Without connectivity in this time of COVID-19 schools across the island are being forced to reopen digitally without the means for their students to learn in that format. Digital devices have now become indispensable, and we need to address with urgency the inequality in connectivity. Those who can afford it will already have purchased the equipment they need for the new school year — if not long before — leaving the rest behind.

The pandemic has also revealed just how far behind we are in making Jamaica a digital economy. Jamaica needs to become the leader in digital transformation in the Latin American and Caribbean region, which can only occur if all our stakeholders have access to the digital tools needed to become a knowledge-driven economy.

The tax relief outlined will provide concrete help to numerous small entrepreneurs who, unlike most larger companies, may not have sufficient funds to buy the equipment they need to adapt to our new digital reality.

Keith Collister

4th vice-president

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce

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