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Tax Incentive Programme aids Downtown Re-Development Plan

A brand new façade, spruced up office space and more user-friendly access and parking facilities are part of the transformation underway at the landmark building housing the NEM Insurance Company on King Street in downtown Kingston.

The company, through the Tax Incentive Programme for Urban Renewal, managed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), has undertaken extensive refurbishing of its downtown headquarters which it has occupied for 70 years.

This signals the possibilities for such renewal projects available through the TIP to property owners in the city.

According to Chris Hind, general manager of NEM, “the Tax Incentive Programme is a very good one, as it offers significant tax breaks”.

“When undertaking major upgrading projects, this translates into considerable cost saving benefits”, he adds.

So excited is Mr. Hind about the programme, that he unhesitatingly recommends that other businesses take advantage of the benefits.

“ NEM stands out from the other buildings and that is great, but what would be even better is to have all the buildings looking like NEM”, he said in encouragement.

Mr. Hind is, however, not just interested in recommending and encouraging support for the TIP, but is also suggesting that other incentives, with greater appeal to a wider cross section of persons could also be offered .

Lenworth Tracey, UDC’s deputy general manager with responsibility for economic development and corporate relations agrees.

According to Tracey, the UDC is currently exploring the establishment of both fiscal and social incentives as part of its strategic initiative to boost  its economic development programme.

NEM, first accessed the Tax Incentive Programme as an Approved Developer in 2003, when they applied for and received tax breaks on improvement works carried out to the canteen and car park at its King Street offices. Since then, the company has renovated the ground and third floors and is completing extensive refurbishing of the exterior. NEM, is not yet finished, as the company is finalizing plans for the renovation of the rest of the five storey building, which it has occupied since 1940.

The Tax Incentive Programme was launched in downtown Kingston in 1995, with a view to revitalizing urban centres defined as blighted, or Special Development Areas (SDA). The programme was later extended to Port Royal and Montego Bay in 1996 and 2000 respectively.  In 2009, Spanish Town became the latest designated area, eligible for benefits under the programme.

Under the incentive programme, tax relief is offered to companies or individuals undertaking capital investments in either land or buildings.  These can be residential or commercial holdings. Three types of incentives – an Urban Renewal Bond, an Investment Tax Credit and Tax Free Rental Income –  are offered through the TIP.

The scope of NEM’s investment is a demonstration of its commitment to downtown Kingston and is positively aligned to the goals and objectives of the UDC for the revitalization of the capital city. NEM joins the list of beneficiaries of TIP which includes GraceKennedy Limited, Courts Jamaica Limited, Konvertra and Guardsman.