KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica’s business associations are urging the government to eliminate gr duties and taxes on smartphones, tablets, computers, and other digital devices for a period of at least 24 months.

The call comes from the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), the Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association (JMEA), the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the MSME Alliance. It comes in light of the country’s stated goal of transforming Jamaica into a digital economy as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the group said.

According to the business groups, it is timely for Jamaica to acknowledge that the necessary transformation will only occur when all stakeholders have easy and economical access to the digital tools that are characteristic of countries that have gone furthest in becoming knowledge-driven economies.

The organisations are specifically calling for the removal of the Common External Tariff (CET) on such products, noting that very few are manufactured or assembled within the region.

It is also proposing that the Government treat digital devices in the same manner that it does with printed materials which only attract a 2 per cent Government Consumption Tax (GCT) rate.

The group argued that since the COVID-19 crisis began and institutions of learning have been forced to adopt interactive distance learning methods, digital devices are indispensable parts of the learning toolkit.

It said that by removing the duties and adopting the GCT level now extended to textbooks, the country will be investing in the upgrade of its educational infrastructure as is necessary to entrench and sustain a digital economy.

The group added that such a move on the part of the government will assist the efforts of micro, small and medium enterprises that are attempting to pivot to address and emerge stronger from the new economic realities.

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