Government waivers extended, businessman questions its effectiveness

Government is extending duty waivers on building materials for another year, but one businessman says those concessions are not helping reduce Caymanian unemployment. While duty concessions have boosted construction locally, businessman and architect Eddie Thompson says the knock-on effect of more jobs for Caymanians is not being seen. He said, “We have seen another spike in unemployment when we also have a spike in development.” Government has extended duty concessions on building materials for another year. Minister of Finance Hon. Roy McTaggart said, “It is a reduction in the amount of duty that importers and consumers pay for the importation of building materials.” Mr McTaggart said the duty concessions are meant to stimulate the economy.  They expire annually to allow government to determine if the concessions are achieving their goals. He continued, “The empirical evidence that they have been able to show us over the years is yes it is contributing to the stimulation of development.” But Mr Thompson said if that’s the case unemployment should not going up. Mr Thompson said, “They should be working in tandem where the unemployment goes down if the economy is rising.” According to the Economics and Statistics office Compendium of Statistics 2016, work permits for construction sector has steadily increased . In 2014, 2,118 were granted that jumped to 2,655 in 2015 and last year it crossed the 3000 mark with 3041. Apart from unemployment Mr Thompson said the concessions are not easing the bigger burden affecting local businesses. He said, “I think that what they also need to do look at the cost of fuel..fuel factor is a very big issue”. However Minister McTaggart said that at the moment that no other concessions are being considered at this time. He said, “We have a two year budget period that we are going into now as a cycle and I think a lot will depend on how that unfolds for the country over the next two years.”

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Jevaughnie Ebanks

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