‘Strengthening Tax Reform Initiatives’: Joe Issa Marks TAJ, ICAJ MoU Good for Jamaica

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Joe Issa has come out in support of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently signed between the Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ), stating it creates an appropriate forum for tax reform in Jamaica.

Joseph “Joey” Issa

“Talk reform and you are on the right track. The operative word is to reform; that means doing the right things better for yourself and those who are impacted. In other words, the more you do the right things, and the better you do them, the more benefits that will accrue to those who are impacted by what you do.

“But for that to happen things have to change both in what we do and how we do it, to create greater effectiveness and efficiency, respectively. They are equally important; for it’s no point doing the right thing only to find out you are not doing it right; or, even when you think you are doing the thing right, it turns out you are doing the wrong thing.

It’s like doing what the people want but not how they want you to do it. This has broad application, including how we do business. Such as importing and exporting and investing and creating jobs,” said Issa, who has not only spoken of the need for local corporations to pay tax but thinks that instituting a rate that is above what obtains in Jamaica’s trading partners is putting domestic firms at a disadvantage relative to their foreign counterparts.

He explains further: “The TAJ is doing the right thing by ensuring tax compliance, but like most similar cases they need guidance and assurance that they are going about it the right way; that’s where I see value in the MoU.

Issa was commenting on a recent MoU signed between TAJ and ICAJ to strengthen longstanding collaboration on matters related to the country’s tax system.

“The concept, which has been adapted from the Canadian Revenue Authority’s model, underpins the establishment of a Consultative Committee that will provide a forum for dialogue between senior officials and members of the TAJ and ICAJ on a wide range of issues,” according to the Observer.

(L to R) Peart, Campbell, Powell, Sinclair
(L to R) Peart, Campbell, Powell, Sinclair

These reportedly include the sharing of information on existing and proposed compliance programs to identify improvements; the identification of opportunities for collaboration with taxpayers; and revisions to protocols facilitating taxpayers, based on legislative amendments, among other things.

The committee is to be co-chaired by TAJ Technical Specialist, Bevon Sinclair, and Head of the ICAJ’s Tax Committee, Allison Peart. They were among the four representatives who co-signed the MoU at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston recently.

The signing also included TAJ Commissioner General, Ainsley Powell and ICAJ President, Raymond Campbell and was witnessed by Finance and Public Service State Minister, Fayval Williams. The signing occurred during the TAJ’s ‘Let’s Talk Tax’ forum, which was held under the theme: ‘Tax Compliance in Jamaica’.

Powell was quoted say the MoU provided “an excellent opportunity to strengthen the TAJ’s strategic relationship with the accounting fraternity in ongoing efforts to further improve the administrative procedures and processes driving Jamaica’s tax system.”

He also anticipated that “both organisations collaborating to identify the necessary changes that result in improvements in the overall system will redound to the benefit of taxpayers thereby engendering greater voluntary compliance,” according to the newspaper.

Joe Issa Marks Black Friday Potential Marketing Opportunity for Jamaican Online Companies

Marketing Guru Joe Issa who sees business opportunities as far away as the United States, Europe and Asia is suggesting that Jamaican companies could target mega-spending holidays abroad such as Black Friday as potential opportunities to market their products.

Joey 14

Issa, who is said to have studied in the US and continues to host his classmates for periodic reunions, operates one of Jamaica’s most prominent online companies, clicketmarket.com, a subsidiary of his Cool Group of over 50 companies that are being leveraged internationally

“Black Friday is the most significant spending day of the Thanksgiving weekend. It starts on Thursday and ends on Cyber Monday. That is mega sales we can tap into, both in the US where the tradition began and now the UK where it has since spread.

“Think of the enormous sums our Diaspora people will be spending for Thanksgiving weekend this year, especially on Black Friday; that is more Jamaicans than we have living here.

“If we start advertising our products online early enough it will allow our people out there the opportunity to order Jamaican products for their families and friends, including their non-Jamaican friends. If I know our people well, it will provide an opportunity for them to show off all that’s Jamaican.

“Moreover, we will not only be targeting our Diaspora but also US and British consumers who would now be well acquainted with Jamaica; thanks to our music, sport, culture and heritage that have made us popular the world over,” said Issa. who is known to have popularised Reggae music on campus and at nightclubs in Worcester, Massachusettes where he attended university.

Issa added: “However, we have to be prepared to make the necessary investment and form alliances with our US and UK counterparts to ensure that the Jamaican products are readily available for delivery to customs on time based on the standards there, as well as to give the appropriate discounts to attract sales.”

According to The Independent last year Britons spent a record £5.8 billion over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, representing a 15 percent increase on 2015, quoting VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

Of the £5.8 billion, online retailers are said to have taken some £2.8 billion – a 20 percent increase from the £2.3 billion posted in 2015. On Black Friday itself, an estimated £1.27 billion was spent by consumers in the 24 hour period – up 16 percent on 2015.

Black Friday this year falls on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving and is followed by Cyber Monday (November 27), which used to be a separate event in its right until last year when it merely became an extension to the Black Friday weekend, it is said.

The term Black Friday originated from Philadelphia, USA, in the early 1950s. It used to describe a pre-Christmas day of wholesale carnage. Online retail giant Amazon introduced the concept to the UK in 2010 and Asda, which is owned by America’s most prominent retailer Walmart, is said to have followed suit in 2013.

amazon online

“Even with these high sales Black Friday is still entirely trumped by China’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year which finished on November 11, 2016, with Chinese shoppers spending $17.8bn (£14.2bn) in 24 hours.

Jamie Merrick of Salesforce Commerce Cloud is quoted as saying that UK retailers did not discount as heavily as those in other countries.  Noting that consumers in the UK saw prices cut by an average of just 9%, compared to Germany (23%), France (26%), the United States (29%) and Canada (36%).

In 2016, Ikea, Asda, Next and Homebase are said to have been among those who did not participate in Black Friday. M&S and Selfridges, which reportedly took some part, held weekend-long Christmas-themed sales instead.

“Following feedback from customers that they wanted low prices throughout the festive season and not just for one day, Asda decided to step away from Black Friday,” said an Asda spokesman.

Asda, which was hailed in 2013 when it came onboard to spread the US phenomenon of Black Friday in the UK, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when scenes of shoppers wrestling over discounted televisions made front page news.

In 2016, John Lewis is said to have trumped brands such as Apple and Amazon to take the top spot as the nation’s most popular brand for Black Friday. The department store also took the top spot for tech-specific purchases, followed again by Apple, Amazon and Game. However, Debenhams appeared to have won the fashion war, the Independent wrote, quoting data from voucher website, Vouchercloud.




Ensuring Continuity of Personal, Business Communication for Next Quarter Century Responsible, Reassuring – Joe Issa

Executive Chairman of Cool Corporation Joe Issa has described as responsible and reassuring the move by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to secure Jamaica’s number available for the next 25 years.

“It is a responsible move on the part of the OUR, to ensure that sufficient telephone numbers are available to satisfy the needs of individuals and businesses for the next 25 years.

“It is also reassuring for people and the business community, regarding their long-term growth plans, as it could be quite disconcerting not knowing what will happen when we use up the 876 quotas of telephone numbers.

“Now that we are assured that enough numbers are available to accommodate planned expansions over the long term, this will act as a big incentive for businesses to implement present plans for long-term growth and that of the economy.

“The move could also make Jamaica more attractive to foreign investments which have a high demand for telephone numbers, such as the emerging BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry,” said Issa.

Issa was commenting on the announcement by the OUR, that Jamaica now has another area code – 658 – in addition to the existing 876 and that the new code, which takes effect on May 31, 2018, mandates ten-digit dialling – the 3-digit code plus the 7-digit number – for all local calls.

OUR explained, however, that there will be an adjustment period – the permissive dialling period – lasting at least five months, during which a recording will remind clients to dial the current 3-digit code if they forget and dial only the 7-digit number. After the permissive dialling period is ended, all local calls will require ten-digit dialling to be completed.

The new code is to be used in addition to, and not as a replacement for, the existing 876 area code; and the introduction of ten-digit dialling will not increase telephone charges, nor require current telephone numbers to be changed.

However, clients, especially businesses and government agencies are being encouraged to start adding the current 876 area code on all their printed materials and signage.

Users of alarm services and solutions with automatic diallers, and operators of PBX systems are also advised “to contact their respective service providers to ensure that their systems will be compatible with the new numbering and dialling arrangements,” OUR said.

“It became necessary for Jamaica to get an additional Numbering Plan Area (NPA) code…to ensure that there are sufficient numbers available to satisfy growth in demand for these resources over the next 25 years,” the agency was quoted explaining.

Under the Telecommunications Act, the OURis fully responsible for the allocation, assignment (to service providers) and usage of telecommunication numbers in Jamaica.