Robinson suggests offering incentives to small businesses to bring them into the formal systemSaturday, October 16, 2021
With up to 40 per cent of the Jamaican economy said to be informal, Opposition spokesman on finance, Julian Robinson, has asked the government to consider offering incentives to vulnerable small business operators in order to get them into the formal system.
Robinson made the call in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, during his contribution to the debate on the report of the Standing Finance Committee on the First Supplementary Estimates which has seen $33 billion added to the national budget.
During the debate, Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke announced that up to 350,000 vulnerable Jamaicans who are still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will benefit from a $3.75 billion dollar social intervention programme.
Additionally, up to 250,000 people stand to benefit from what Clarke announced as a Care Package Food Drive that will cost $1 billion.
Responding, Robinson stressed that the Opposition supported the measures. However, he said more must be done to capture those who fall outside the government's targeted interventions.
“There is an area that I want to recommend to government. In the informal sector, there's what I would call not just vulnerable individuals but vulnerable small businesses who don't fit into any of the categories that you have announced,” Robinson told Clarke.
“I believe there is a way to incentivise people to come into the formal system…I'm talking about the pan chicken man, I'm talking about the hairdresser, I'm talking about the people who do the nails at home. They don't necessarily pay taxes but they contribute to economic development and they're a critical source,” Robinson continued.
The Opposition spokesman argued that there is a way to bring them into the formal net by providing some support for example offering a first time payment “but if you want the second or the third (payment) then you have to register so that you can come into the formal system so that they become, in a sense taxpayers”.
“I say this because 40 per cent of our economy, unlike many other economies, is informal. We are unique,” Robinson stated.
He said all parliamentarians are aware of significant numbers of persons who did not benefit from the original care programme offered by the government last year, and who still do not fall into any of the categories Clarke announced on Tuesday.
“So yes, there's an attempt to deal with them and I applaud that but I believe we can go a little further by incentivising, whether it's by using the vaccine as a carrot to pull persons in, or otherwise, so that you can make them formal,” Robinson said.