Ministry of Finance Financial Secretary says industry should lobby for benefits and incentives.
"The cultural industry ... should lobby more, cooperate more, for broad incentives to structure a development path so that we reap the benefit from our creativity," declared Ministry of Finance Financial Secretary Dr. Wesley Hughes in his first public presentation in his new role. He was speaking at the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association General Meeting held last evening (Tuesday, September 15, 2009).
Breaking from his prepared speech and speaking "from the heart", Hughes took great pains to explain that in an ideal economy, trade incentives, waivers and benefits are not necessary. In the real world, however incentives are necessary to "level the playing field". This sentiment is echoed in the National Export Strategy which recognises music (among a select few other industries) as a corner stone to long term economic development.
Quantifying the returns from the development, trade and export of music has proven difficult for numerous reasons including lack of accurate data capture and the ability to define "authentic Jamaican" products. Hughes commented that, "we are still searching, it is a dynamic process" in reference to some of these issues. "The critical thing to understand is that we have a future," he added.
As part of its mandate to its membership, JARIA has taken steps to ensure the future viability of the cultural sector in general and the music industry specifically by lobbing government on taxation practices, including the application of the General Consumption Tax (GCT) to entertainment events and double taxation on international income, amusement fees and developmental funding. Many of these areas now fall under the prevue of Dr. Hughes.
Hughes stepped down as the Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), a post he held since 1995. Among other things, the statutory organization compiled quantitative data on the impact of music on the national economy prompting special attention for the sector in the drafting of the National Export Policy (NES).
Dr. Hughes was the first featured guest speaker at the JARIA General Meeting. Broadcasting Commission Head, Cordel Green has been confirmed to make a presentation at the next meeting on Tuesday, October 20 commencing at 6 PM in the Training Room at the offices of Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI formerly JAMRO). The meeting is open to the membership. Music professionals may seek to join the organization by contacting The Secretariat, also located at JTI. The annual membership fee is $1,500.00.