The Premier League clubs in Jamaica must take a significant portion of the blame for this period of uncertainty. Their reluctance to expose young players to the top flight at an early age plays a big part in the stagnation of the development of the young players. This has, over time, fed into the psyche of the football public and the young players themselves, convincing them that they are only good for schoolboy football and not even for our mediocre premier league, let alone getting called up to the national squad. The knee-jerk reaction of national coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore of calling up of all of 10 schoolboys to the current squad is confirmation that Whitmore himself is totally missing the point. That is typical pandering without conviction. Calling 10 schoolboys to the squad can only make sense if Whitmore truly believes in the quality of these players and will stick with them for the long haul. If, as suspected, these selections turn out to be tokenism and pandering, and most of these 10 schoolboys will never receive a second call- up, then the principle would have been totally betrayed. The general and utter confusion about how to manage the introduction of young players into the system is an index of how poorly we have grasped this very basic principle of the sport of football. Investment in youth is standard procedure in football all over the world. For far too long, we have had it totally twisted in Jamaica. That is why at the seniors national level, in recent years, the federation has resorted to scouring the sidewalks of England and go begging second-rate, half, committed journeyman players to come and don the national colours, basically telling an entire generation of young Jamaican players that they are not good enough. The rhetoric of the past few weeks seems hell bent on maintaining that sad state of affairs, an eventuality that will continue to stagnate and destroy the game locally, while all these myopic thinkers continue to TOTALLY MISS THE POINT. The discussions and actions across the local football fraternity in recent weeks, regarding the call for the infusion of more young players in the national senior set-up, have confirmed that many persons are totally missing the point. The basic and fundamental notion of identifying and indulging the very best of our young players at senior national level is being rejected by those who I think, by and large, lack the vision and foresight to understand the medium- to long-term potential of making this kind of strategic investment. In the books of the naive and ignorant, an 18 or a 19-year-old is very young in football, but in real and progressive football cultures, a 19-year-old is a ‘big man’ in football. For the persons who believe that 18 and 19-year-olds are merely amateur schoolboys, it will be difficult for them to fathom youngsters at this age being included even in a local-based training squad for a couple of friendly internationals. Such is the crippling short-sightedness that’s been shadowing these discussions. Without even realising it, the dissenting voices to the inclusion of youth are unable to envisage the kind of positive developmental effect that one or two years of consistent exposure at this level could achieve, once the right players are identified and persisted with. It seems beyond their myopic scope to accept that in a Jamaican system that is rife with imperfections, and that has wasted and destroyed hundreds of talented young players over the years. Genuine and strategic investment in young players could completely change the football landscape. This principle here has nothing to do specifically with hyping or overrating schoolboys, it is simply about investing in our very best young players available; wherever they are and at whatever level they play, the principle applies. if our best two or three youngsters are out of school and are already in the premier league, then so be it. That is why it is encouraging to see players like Rodave Murray, Shamar Nicholson and others getting the call. The reason schoolboys are perennially mentioned in this debate is because of the high profile of the schoolboy competitions, but if a good young talent is spotted in super league or even in a Sunday-evening scrimmage game and the talent is outstanding enough to inspire a call-up, then in principle, that young talent should be grabbed and nurtured. The fulcrum point of this principle is the IDENTIFYING OF TALENT. Period of uncertainty
– considering implementing tax credits to create “level playing field”The days of tax exemptions may be winding down, with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) revealing that it is considering radical cut backs on the system and replacing it with tax credits.GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia made this announcement at a business luncheon hosted by the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA). Statia cited the historical abuse of the system and the results of the 2016 Tax Reform Commission. According to the finance specialist, replacing exemptionsGRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statiawith credit would assist in creating a level playing field.“It is a known fact that exemptions are abused and may eventually be replaced with tax credits, thereby creating a level playing field for taxpayers. The Authority is aware that it spends too much resources policing this activity (exemptions), which could be better spent widening the tax net and improving tax efficiency.”Instead of reducing taxable income, tax credits actually reduce the amount of taxes owed. But while tax exemptions are still available, Statia was critical of some businesses not taking advantage of them.“Many businesses also do not adequately realise various tax concessions available under the Act. Until the advent of tax credits, maybe introduced instead of exemptions, businesses must trudge through the various Acts, small businesses in particular do not reap the rewards available under the Small Business Act.”The Guyana Revenue Authority“Exemptions go a begging and the various allowances are often not utilised. Yet, complaints are made when foreign companies benefit and local companies do not. These are available to all competitors in the market and should be used.”In 2015, the Government had established the Tax Reform Committee headed by Dr Maurice Odle. The Committee’s mandate was to examine the country’s taxation system and make recommendations for fixing it. The Committee had reported its findings to the Finance Minister in January 2016.Among its recommendations were an Income Tax threshold of $750,000 with progressive rates of taxation from 20 per cent to 35 per cent, reintroduction of estate duties and levies on tobacco and alcohol.Red tapeMeanwhile, Statia defended the Authority against reports of the sloth and red tape businesses encounter when trying to access tax exemptions. According to Statia, in some cases, incomplete files are sent from the recommending agency to the GRA.“The Authority is usually blamed for holding up exemptions granted by the sister agencies. In the majority of cases, this is not so. Since incomplete files cannot be processed, to alleviate this problem, the Authority has written its sister agencies as to the requirement of documents with each application and has requested meetings with each agency with the view of minimising the time and effort to complete these transactions,” he said.A poignant case of these reports are the tax exemptions mining operators were supposed to access. Back in 2015, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) had signed agreements with the Guyana Energy Agency, the GRA and Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.These agreements had included the granting of exemptions from customs duties on fuel and equipment for eligible miners. But with an initial lifespan of six months, miners complained bitterly that the time elapsed, with many not benefiting.The GGDMA has said that operators were not able to benefit from the grant of duty-free concessions on mining equipment, vehicles and fuel, owing to the red tape experienced at the regulatory agencies involved.As a result, miners have for some time been raising issues such as the spike in taxes across the board implemented by the Government; in particular, the increase of the Tributors Tax from 10 to 20 per cent, Value Added Tax on heavy-duty mining equipment and the two per cent Withholding Tax.