The Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) is seeking changes to the country’s newly introduced Special Economic Zone Act, with members of the outsourcing community becoming increasingly critical of the measure.
Yoni Epstein, CEO of ItelBPO, and the first vice-president of the BPIAJ, has urged the government to make necessary changes, arguing that the new law was delaying the approval of investment proposals.
“There are companies that are ready to invest tomorrow and physically cannot because of the time it takes for the approval,” said Epstein, as quoted by the Jamaica Gleaner.
At the center of the dispute is a fee that BPO operators may have to pay for operating in the economic zones. Some reports say that the Special Economic Zone authority wants to implement an annual charge of US$30,000 for developers; US$10,000 for occupants; and US$5,000 for support services.
The Special Economic Zone law replaces the Jamaica Export Free Zone Act and is inclusive of incentives and other financial benefits as well.
Ever since the law came into force, the lobby group has been demanding to know how it would treat the BPO industry. With more than 25,000 employees, the sector is the largest employer on the island. Moreover, it is contributing US$400 million annually to the local economy.
Just as the economic zones have become a bone of contention, the government is proposing construction of a new technology park to house BPO firms. In a recent career fair, government minister Dr Horace Chang revealed plans to develop free lands around Hope Gardens in St. Andrew into a technology park.