Sat | Sep 22, 2018

PM opens Special Economic Zone Authority

Published:Thursday | July 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
From left: Mike Henry, former minister of transport and works; Kamina Johnson-Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade; Metry Seaga, chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority; Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Fayval Williams, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service; and Asif Ahmad, British High Commissioner to Jamaica are viewing a three dimensional model of Jamaica’s logistics hub.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) cuts the ribbon to the newly opened head office for the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority. He is joined by (from left) Dr Eric Deans, chief executive officer, Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA); Metry Seaga, chairman, SEZA; Fayval William, minister without prtfolio, Ministry of Finance and the Public Service; Kamina Johnson-Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade; Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and Mike Henry, former minister of transport and works at the cutting of ribbons to open a new head office for the authority.
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Government, through the economic growth and job creation ministry in the Office of the Prime Minister, has officially opened the Special Economic Zone Authority, situated on Waterloo Road, St Andrew.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told The Gleaner yesterday that the new Special Economic Zone Authority was an improvement on what was known in Jamaica as free zones.

"This authority regulates the special economic zone. It is an improvement over the previous economic initiative, which are called free zones. These are businesses that are given fiscal incentives, including tax incentives, which would see them pay zero taxes," Holness explained.

"The businesses within the economic zone generally face a 12.5 per cent tax, and there are clear criteria for special economic zone status to be accorded to them. Specifically, they would have to be new enterprises, and they would have to be generating significant employment," he added.

Metry Seaga, chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority, said that local and international companies must see the opening of the building as a wonderful opportunity.

"We are charged with regulating business persons who can be taken seriously. We inherited over 220 companies in the free zone, and we have been taking our time to weed out those that are no longer operating. We are trying to get to a place where we know what the industry looks like," Seaga told The Gleaner.

"Currently, we are down to 109 companies, but we are adding to the list every day. As companies apply, they go through a rigorous process. After that, they will be made into special economic zones. It is a real opportunity for Jamaican and international companies to get on board," he said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com