MONTEGO BAY, St James — President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Davon Crump says Government's planned elimination of discretionary tax waivers could frustrate investors.
"I am of the view that at a time when we should be seeking sound investments as a boost to our economy, the elimination of discretionary waivers will only stymie any such efforts," the chamber president said in a statement yesterday.
According to Crump, developed and developing countries which are aggressively pursuing developments have been extending all kinds of discretionary waivers to encourage investors.
"...Therefore, we are questioning this path that the Government will be threading, even though we understand it to be a demand of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the agreement being finalised," Crump said.
During a joint address to the nation Monday night, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips said one of the conditions stipulated by the IMF is for Government to take concrete steps to reduce and virtually eliminate discretionary tax waivers.
Another imposed condition is a contract with public sector workers that will enable the achievement of a wage-to-GDP ratio of nine per cent by 2015/2016.
"We are in active discussion with the representatives of public sector workers to achieve this objective," the finance minister said.
Crump yesterday questioned whether the Government would be taking steps to hold the cost of living in check. "While public sector workers are asked to hold strain, concrete steps should be taken to control the cost of living, including the cost of food, electricity and transportation," Crump said.
"One of the things we were expecting to hear and did not, is a way to keep public sector wages in line with the current economic activity. It is highly impractical for the public sector wages to remain stagnant into perpetuity, while cost of living is increasing at a dramatic rate," said the chamber president.
He said that he was not surprised by the announcement of another debt swap programme, and promised that the chamber will be holding the Government to the strategies announced to reduce the country's debt.
Said Crump: "We are encouraged by the measures announced by the finance minister that will be taken to ensure a difference with the programme this time around, with the establishment of a co-ordinating and implementing unit by March, and the economic programme oversight committee to monitor compliance and progress of ministries and agencies."