The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) is reporting that there are 131 entities operating in the country’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs), with a total investment of more than US$1 billion.

The Authority says since the SEZ Act was passed in 2016, it has successfully transitioned more than 106 entities from free zones to SEZs, and has added a number of new companies.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the JSEZA, Dr. Eric Deans, said that the Authority continues the push to heighten stakeholder interest in the SEZ to catalyse further economic development.

Dr. Deans speaking at a JSEZA sensitisation session recently in Montego Bay, St. James said that by any measure, this is quite a substantial economic space and that he expected that all these numbers will grow substantially, noting that is is quite a diverse industry and their intention is to have further diversification in the sector.

Dr. Deans pointed out that the goal of the SEZ regime is not to have a big stick over entities seeking to conduct their business, but to operate more like Singapore, where the purpose of the regulations is to create a regime that will facilitate business, while fostering economic growth.

He stressed that regulations are important when monitoring developers and occupants, because SEZ incentives are primarily tax benefits.

A Special Economic Zone is a preferential tax agreement. As such, it provides considerable fiscal incentives to the entities… and as such, getting those benefits comes with certain responsibilities, he said.