The Jamaica Manufacturers Association, JMA, says it will make NO apology for how it executes its duties as representatives of the Jamaican manufacturing sector.
The JMA made the comments in a strongly worded release in response to an article by Head of the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Damien King published in yesterday’s Gleaner.
In his article, Dr. King criticized the JMA’s lobbying for tax exemptions and incentives for manufacturers, at the expense of other producers such as farmers and those in the service industries like tourism.
He says such tax relief increases the tax burden on other tax payers.
The JMA says its disappointed that Dr. King has not taken the time to present his views with more depth of analysis and balance.
The JMA also urged Dr. King to make a realistic and pragmatic contribution to assist in putting policies in place that will deliver desperately needed growth in the economy, rather than just standing back and throwing stones.
The JMA says while it’s correct that it had approached the Bank of Jamaica for a foreign exchange window, its grossly incorrect that preferential rates had been requested, and false that the facility was being sought for members only.
It says the issue of availability of Forex is a long standing one that has been compounded by the recent devaluation of the Jamaican dollar.
This devaluation, it says, has been driven by heavy demand for foreign exchange by the Government as it seeks to meet its IMF targets, and also by speculators seeking to avoid an erosion of wealth by holding US dollars.
The JMA says the Governor of the BOJ, Brian Wynter, had already explained the issues faced in providing a special Forex window for the sector.
It says the JMA accepted those views and has instead sought to partner with a private entity, the Jamaica National Building Society, in developing a foreign exchange facility for its members.
Furthermore, the JMA says the tax relief granted to the sector is not unique and is given to manufacturers internationally.
It says it holds firm to its position that taxes should not be applied to the inputs into the process of transforming raw materials to finished products.
Rather, it says such taxes should be charged when goods are being sold, as is the case in most world economies.
The JMA says far from seeking to benefit at the expense of other Jamaicans and businesses, manufacturers contribute significantly to Jamaica.
It points to direct revenue contribution to the government of 30-billion dollars annually, foreign exchange earnings of over 700-million US dollars per year, and direct employment of 71 thousand Jamaicans.
It says it also contributes over 8 percent of the country’s GDP
Earlier, on Nationwide This Morning, past president of the JMA Omar Azan lashed Dr. King for his views, likening the veteran university lecturer to a ‘bright fool’.
Mr Azan also questioned Dr. King’s capacity to remain as a member of the board of directors for one of the country’s leading manufacturing companies, Red Stripe.