#MONTEGO BAY, Feb. 24 (JIS): 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, told JIS News that the Authority continues the push to heighten stakeholder interest in the SEZ to catalyse further economic development.
“So, by any measure, this is quite a substantial economic space. We expect that all these numbers will grow substantially. It is quite a diverse industry and our intention is to have further diversification in the sector,” he said.
Dr. Deans was speaking at a JSEZA sensitisation session on February 21, held at the S Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James.
The session focused on the importance of regulation and monitoring by JSEZA and the roles of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) and Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) in the operation of free zones, now referred to as ‘zones’.
“The goal of the SEZ regime is not to have a big stick over entities seeking to conduct their business. Like Singapore, the purpose of the regulations is to create a regime that will facilitate business, while fostering economic growth,” Dr. Deans pointed out.
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.
“We want to ensure that, going forward, every entity that was in this space that became a part of this family had a proper gazette, had proper operating procedures and had proper safety and security procedures and would feel secure in their operating certificate,” Dr. Deans added.
He said the Authority will continue to facilitate opportunities for value-added industries within the SEZ.
“Having put in place this new Act, our job is to facilitate developers and occupants to build world-class facilities. We are moving towards larger zones, based on the interest that we have been seeing. The intention for the regime is to facilitate heavy and light industry, the global services sector (GSS) and other commercial activities and ensuring that where these sites are selected, that the proper offsite infrastructure is supported,” Dr. Deans highlighted.