Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson, has announced that probate reform, which aims to mobilise private and public assets, deemed under-utilised, is expected to come on stream within the next few months.
Speaking on the final day of the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) seventh Investments and Capital Markets Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on January 26, Dr. Hutchinson said asset mobilisation is a pivotal component in realising the commitment of creating an enabling business environment, as outlined in the country’s long-term National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.”
“With asset mobilisation, what we (at the PIOJ) are interested in doing, is figuring out how we can mobilise idle or latently productive human, physical and financial assets in both the public and private sectors. That is, increasing the mobility of these assets and enabling greater efficiency in the use of these assets to support production,” he explained, while stressing the importance of private/public collaboration in this regard.
Citing land as an example where probate reform would be effective, the PIOJ Head pointed to some 6,000 cases of wills for properties, which cannot be probated, because of difficulties being experienced in processing these documents. He noted that challenges were being experienced, particularly with wills prepared between 1920 and 1945, which “were all just done on (paper) leaves”, hence, “we can’t move the process through.”
“We have worked it through and we now know the one area which is left for it (probate reform) to go through, as we have already solved where the bottleneck is. It basically means that we have to electronically put all these things (will and land information) on the system, scan them, and put them in, so that we can move. We are on the verge of breaking through on that. All the legislations (are in place), and we are expecting to have this breakthrough within the next couple of months,” he assured.
Dr. Hutchinson said asset mobilisation is one of six priority areas the PIOJ has identified for collaborative policy development between the government and private sector, given the current “tight fiscal constraints.” The others are: social inclusion, competitiveness, public sector transformation, business networking, and built and natural environment issues.
“What we are calling for now, is for a modern relationship. A modern partnership between government and the private sector, where government concentrates on the delivery of its core functions, so that the private sector can concentrate on project risk and business risk for their activities, including those that they are going to partner with government on,” he said.
In this regard, the PIOJ Head stressed that addressing the challenges associated with probate reform is necessary.
“It will lead to significant economic elasticity. It also leads to significant economic (benefits), because for a lot of people, their primary asset is the land that they inherited which, in a number of cases, they cannot currently use. And, to get it going, we are going to need the private sector’s imagination and entrepreneurship,” Dr. Hutchinson underscored.