Significant strides have been made in the removal of red tape hindering the progress of business development and growth in Jamaica, as the Government moves to implement strategies to make the country more business-friendly, while increasing its global competitiveness.
This was stated by State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, as she addressed the opening of a two-day National Productivity Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, on October 8.
The State Minister pointed out that the Ministry is currently instituting a number of key reform initiatives to improve the business environment.
These include a secured transaction regime, which will allow borrowers to pledge moveable property as security for loans, resulting in improved access to credit; modernising the insolvency legislation, which will encourage more businesses to restart after failure; and amendments to the Trade Marks and Copyright Acts, which will increase investor protection.
This undertaking forms part of the Government’s strategic priorities for 2013/2014, focusing on job creation and economic growth.
“Business facilitation is a core ingredient for sustained investments, and for improvement in national productivity and economic growth in Jamaica. It is important for the development of a strong entrepreneurial sector in our economy, which is crucial for job creation,” she said.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams contended that to significantly improve the country’s global competitiveness and doing business ranking, “we must cut the red tape.”
“This must be done if we are to have any hope of moving our economy on a path of sustainable growth,” she emphasized.
The State Minister noted that the 2013/2014 Global Competitiveness Report has singled out red tape as the most problematic factor affecting Jamaica’s competitiveness.
Citing the 2013 Doing Business Report, she said the country has made some improvements in reducing the difficulty experienced by businesses in paying taxes. In this respect, Jamaica moved up 11 places from 174 out of 185 countries to 163 in the current fiscal year.
“We also continue to do well relative to other economies in terms of ease of starting a business and dealing with construction permits, ranking 21 and 50, respectively. In comparison to Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the process to start a business in Jamaica is less cumbersome. In Jamaica, one has to follow a six-step procedure compared to nine steps in the LAC. It takes seven days to start a business compared to 53 days in the LAC,” she said.
The conference is being held under the theme: ‘Productivity – Pathway to Competitiveness and Growth’. It is hosted by the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC) in observance of Productivity Awareness Week – October 7 to 11.
The conference seeks to provide learning opportunities and valuable information on productivity for employees at all levels, in private and public sector organisations.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter