Distant calls for reduced income tax

JCC elects new board

Business reporter

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

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Newly appointed President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Lloyd Distant Jr, in his new role as head of the Chamber's executive body, wants to reduce the personal income tax burden on taxpayers.

JCC held its annual general meeting yesterday, during which Distant Jnr was elected president of the chamber. The chamber announced its new executive body as Michael McMorris, first vice-president; Ian Neita, second vice-president; Keith Collister, third vice-president and Melanie Subratie, fourth vice-president. Wilbert Spence was re-elected as honorary treasurer of the organisation.

Two retiring directors, Lazarus Bucknor and Michael G Ammar, also achieved Director Emeritus status for more than 20 years of outstanding service.

“We have heard the cries for the abolition of income tax — viewed by many as being an idealistic end game. The chamber, while maintaining abolition as the ultimate objective, has distilled its more immediate demands to reducing reliance on income tax as the primary source of public funding by placing greater reliance on indirect taxation,” Distant Jnr said.

“In that regard, we view it pragmatic to start with rationalisation and simplification. In simplification we should be moving to the flattening of the tax rate (corporate and personal), inclusive of the removal of the 5 per cent surtax on personal income that was implemented in 2016. In rationalisation, we consider it fundamental to remove taxes that are punitive, as well as any tax that serves to inhibit growth, including taxes on dividends, asset tax, minimum business tax, etc,” he continued.

The new president is also adamant that Jamaica must become an environment that provides for business success, and that the chamber will be a more vocal proponent for things that will maintain and continue to drive growth.

Distant also urged the Government to provide more opportunities for local businesses to participate in the myriad of planned infrastructure projects.

“We are mindful that as the opportunities are created, our members will need to play their role by building capacity to do more of these projects with local resources. We strongly encourage our members to look beyond our borders for growing their businesses, and will be engaging with the JMEA on advocating for those things that are necessary to improve export-led growth.

“In achieving this, we expect a collaboration of competing companies to be a significant part of the new dispensation in how Jamaican companies approach business,” he said.

Over the next few years, the chamber will also be leveraging stakeholders in extending the drive for an environment that is business-friendly. According to Distant Jr, the chamber with its reconstituted legislations, regulations and process improvement committee committed to being more vigilant with respect to Government's legislative agenda, while being mindful that social imperatives facilitate sustainable growth for Jamaica.

The chamber also aims to use its leverage with the International Chamber of Commerce, as well as the network of other Caribbean chambers to identify and take advantage of opportunities outside of Jamaica.

More work will also be done with other parish chambers to ensure that a collaborative and cohesive front is presented on matters that affect the jurisdictions.

“There is a buzz taking place in the business community in Jamaica, and the JCC intends to continue and enhance its role in making the expectations of this community become a reality,” he said.

Distant Jr has almost 30 years of business experience spanning large corporates and small businesses along with a history of distinguished civic leadership. For 14 years he has supported and understudied several chamber past presidents.

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