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PSOJ warns of massive job losses

Monday, February 18, 2013    

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THE Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) is calling on the Government to immediately review and make changes to aspects of its new tax regime, which it said could do more harm than good to the economy.

"The PSOJ is urging the Government to immediately review and change its tax treatment of certain raw material inputs under the new waiver caps imposed by the proposed IMF agreement," said the group in a release on the weekend.

"Unless modified, this proposed tax treatment will likely force the shut-down of critical Jamaican industries and cause thousands of Jamaican workers to lose their jobs," said the release.

The PSOJ release did not specify the raw material input or the industries it said would be affected.

But yesterday, Jamaica Manufacturers' Association President Brian Pengelley told the Jamaica Observer that those raw materials included molasses and sugar, the importation of which the Government is now proposing to tax. According to Pengelley, the proposal will devastate Jamaica's critical rum and beverage industries.

On Tuesday, the Government announced the new $16.4-billion tax measure, which it hopes will increase the country's revenue, as part of the requirement to secure a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The measure includes increases in property and education taxes, some customs duties, as well as on taxes levied against lottery winnings and telephone calls.

Last week Thursday, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips told reporters at a press conference that he did not foresee a review of the new tax measures, which, since its announcement, has been decried by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, business sector groups and members of the public alike.

The PSOJ added in its weekend release: "The organisation is renewing calls for the introduction and implementation of a growth plan for Jamaica, post the IMF deal. This is necessary in order to counter the recessionary impact that will come with the newly signed agreement."

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