The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) has advised Prime Minister Andrew Holness against allowing the creation of virtual SEZs to facilitate the outsourcing sector’s plan to have 25 per cent of its labour pool working from home indefinitely.
“The new paradigm of business is still fluid, and it is not clear what will obtain in the next few months,” said Dr Eric Dean, CEO of JSEZA, in a five-page letter that was seen by The Gleaner.
“The GOJ (Government of Jamaica), therefore, has to be cautious whilst responsive to commerce.”
Dean said that a virtual SEZ could cause a range of problems, including creating loopholes in the tax system. Virtual SEZs, Dean said, might have negative consequences for developers who have invested in building out space and created a proliferation of single-entity SEZs.
“It should also be highlighted that if the aim of virtual SEZs is to facilitate work from home or off-site work, virtual SEZs are not required,” he said.
The Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ) was recently granted an additional 90 days – to August 31 – to their existing temporary work-from-home arrangement. However, the lobby made a further request for a “carve-out” in the Special Economic Zone Act 2016, including consideration for the creation of virtual SEZs.