FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 13, 2022
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are being urged to capitalise on benefits available through the government’s Omnibus Incentive legislation, The Customs Act and Stamp Duty Act. Ms. Shelley-Ann Haughton, Customs Manager for Seaboard Warehouse/Freezone Operations at the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) prodded entrepreneurs within the manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and creative industries to make use of these initiatives. She was speaking at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC) Virtual Biz Zone on Tuesday, October 12, 2022 on the theme: Moving Goods in the Christmas Rush.
Ms. Haughton shared that, “The government has several waivers and incentives that provide attractive fiscal benefits to our MSMEs. Among these are the Omnibus Incentives legislation which provides varying relief in respect of customs duties, stamp duties etc. The Customs Act provides for the duty-free importation of capital equipment and raw material. The manufacturing, tourism and creative industries will benefit from a duty rate of 0% for industry related consumer goods.”
In detailing the benefits for manufacturing, agricultural, tourism and creative industries, Ms. Haughton said, “Manufacturers get duty exemptions on the following imported goods; raw material, intermediate goods, packaging materials, consumables as well as machinery and equipment and parts thereof.” Ms. Haughton went on to mention that persons within the agricultural sector stand to benefit from the importation of equipment and machinery, as well as revised tariff rates ranging from 0% to no higher than 20% with some exceptions, as well as concessions for specific motor vehicles for farming purposes. These are accessible to farmers who are registered with their local Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) once every 5 years.
Similar to those in the Agricultural sector, individuals within the tourism and creative industries benefit from the importation of equipment and machinery, as well as revised tariff rates ranging from 0% to no higher than 20% with some exceptions. Ms. Haughton said, “The Productive Input Relief (PIR) provides that agricultural-related equipment and machinery used in the production of primary products or in quality control and testing of agricultural products that would have attracted customs duties are not required to pay the customs duty and the Additional Stamp Duty when purchased for productive use.”
Continuing, she made participants aware that this is similar for both the tourism and creative sectors where the PIR that provides certain hotel industry related items as well as tourism attraction-related items that would have attracted duties are not required to pay the customs duty and the Additional Stamp Duty when purchased for productive use. This is also true for musicians and film-makers who are importing industry related items once they are registered under the Creative Industries Registry.
In tackling how the JCA is making provisions for this busy Christmas period, Ms. Haughton said, “Over the years the Jamaica Customs Agency has implemented a number of measures in preparation for the increase in the importation of goods.” Continuing, Ms. Haughton said, “To facilitate this period of increased importation the agency has put initiatives in place and these include; extended warehouse working hours to facilitate the anticipated increase in cargo volumes. There will also be opening on weekends for some warehouses as well as extended working hours and opening on weekends at both Kingston and Montego Bay Customs Houses.”
Ms. Haughton shared that, “The JCA has introduced a number of new initiatives such as the Express Clearance Process that allows your declarations to be done by your Agent or Broker. There is also the Contactless System that is in the pilot phase with non-commercial goods, which is a process where the importer no longer has to visit the warehouse to effect clearance of goods. Then there is the Online track and trace service, this initiative allows the importer to go to our website to check their declaration.” She went on to share the last of their new initiatives and said, “There is the Online Valuation Verification Appointment Portal, this is utilised in cases where there is a need to make contact re valuation issues.”
Continuing, to discuss the agency’s initiatives Ms. Haughton said, “The JCA has introduced a number of duty payment options to make your transactions easier, and these include; debit or credit card, manager’s cheque, online payment, cash, advance deposit account and direct bank transfer using Real Time Gross Settlement.”
The JBDC hosts its Virtual Biz Zone webinars twice monthly on Tuesdays at 10:00am, and entrepreneurs are encouraged to join the informational sessions by registering through the website at www.jbdc.net. Participants can look forward to the upcoming session on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 under the theme: MSME Benefits at the Border with Ms. Sophia Wellington from the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce. Interested small business owners who were not able to join the most recent webinars can subscribe to JBDC’s YouTube page @JBDCJamaica to watch the recordings.