Solomon Sharpe, executive chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), has expressed his delight at the Government's announcement that it will remove the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on the importation of live horses for racing and breeding purposes at Caymanas Park in St Catherine.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke, in his opening contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate at Gordon House last Tuesday, said he is aware that the industry is facing significant risk from the dwindling numbers of high-quality breeding stock to contest the races by SVREL.
Dr Clarke said that the Government collected $6.3 million from the importation of live horses in 2022. He said that the effective date for implementation will be before the end of the first quarter.
Sharpe told the Jamaica Observer that his organisation welcomes the move by the Government.
"We saw where the Government has realised that more needs to be done for the industry and they have created some relaxation on the import duties which will help to simulate the importation of horses," he said.
"We are looking at creating more value and to run more races and some more quality races. This augurs well for the racing industry as it seeks to grow on both the breeding side and the racing side. It is definitely going to create more employment opportunities in all aspects of the racing industry."
He underlined that his organisation has been advocating for this measure for more than four years.
"This is massive for us because it is something that we have been advocating from 2019," Sharpe said. "You will now be able to import more live horses in the system in a more flexible manner and so we definitely have to give kudos to the Government for what is a very big move and we will continue to play our role in the development of horseracing."
Dr Clarke said broodmare stock has been steadily increasing since 2010.
"In 2010, approximately 17 per cent of the broodmare stock was considered barren or not bred with reports from the Jamaica Racing Commission [JRC], indicating that in 2021 this figure increased to as much as 29 per cent," he said.
"Further, approximately 40 per cent of the broodmare stock registered with the JRC was either barren or not bred.
"The revenue measure aims to encourage the importation of better-quality horses, namely [live] mares and fillies, in order to assist the industry in terms of the number of runners," Dr Clarke added.
He said that the proposal is expected to improve the quality of horses coming into the island, and will also assist in rejuvenating the horse racing industry.
He noted: "Not only in terms of breed stock, but also mature horses will improve the quality of race events".
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