In an effort to encourage a more sustainable business environment the St. James Municipal Corporation has commenced two weeks of training for new recruits who will engage members of the business community under its newly implemented Data Collections Programme.
Data Collection Agents who have been employed by the Corporation have undergone two weeks of intensive training on data collection techniques, interviewing techniques, the Licence on Trades and Business Act, the Tax Collection Act, Revenue Administration Act, Barbers and Hairdressers Regulation, Places of Amusement Regulation, Butchers Licence Regulation, information documentation and report writing.
After the completion of the course, the Agents will be entrusted to carry out the mandate of the programme, which is to ascertain information on business operations through field research and where necessary, serve notices and reminders. This gathering of data will critically inform evaluation and monitoring of commercial services offered by the Municipal Corporation.
Results from the field operations will also guide the creation of a database which will help to determine action to promote increases in own-source revenue collection; most specifically those that fall under the Licence on Trade and Business Act, both in the metropolis as well as rural areas.
Additionally, the database should enhance compliance throughout the Parish while improving relationship with key stakeholders through sensitization.
According to Chief Executive Officer of the St James Municipal Corporation, Gerald Lee, a need for the programme exists due to the existing short falls in the local government system.
“Due to the lack of coherent and cohesive strategy through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Tax Administration Jamaica, Local Authorities do not have database of all businesses in the parish, and as a result of this, there is not enough collection of own source revenue”, Mr. Lee stated.
He added that “Trade Licences in particular are an issue, as there have been increases that took effect 1st April 2015, which the Corporation is still not benefiting from.”
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, is encouraging compliance among the business Operators and describes the programme as an effort geared towards mutual benefit of the Corporation as well as the business community.
Mayor Williams said “It is critical that a database of all businesses operating in the parish is developed to determine whether or not a trade licence is required, and to forecast potential revenue. The situation in St. James now demands that an urgent and ongoing field operation, to gather data and relevant information on the businesses across the parish, be implemented for wholesome growth.”
Public education of businesses and individuals forms a critical component of the project through the provision of updated and correct information. The Compliance Unit will be a combined task force between the Revenue & Commercial Service Unit and the Local Government Tax Unit. New recruits will carry out data collection along with a Team Leader from Local Government Tax Unit.