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JAMPRO facilitates reforms to improve business climateTuesday, May 02, 2017 > 09:22:12
Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), through the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), has been efficiently facilitating the implementation of various reforms to improve Jamaica's business climate and performance on key global competitiveness indices.
JAMPRO monitors several international indices, particularly the Doing Business Report of the World Bank, Logistics Performance Index and the Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum.
Speaking with JIS News, JAMPRO President Diane Edwards notes that some key reforms that have been implemented include the mandatory system of e-filing for all major taxes; support to the drafting of the Insolvency Act; development and implementation of the Security Interest in Personal Property (SIPP) Act and the implementation of the Business Registration Super-form.
She points out that through the work of the NCC, Jamaica has benefited from the systematic approach adopted to improve its business climate and improve the ease of doing business.
The Doing Business Report (DBR) 2017 highlighted Jamaica as one of nine countries in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region to have implemented more than one reform, and emphasises that the country ranks in the top 50 worldwide in business processes such as starting a business, getting credit and resolving insolvency.
Edwards tells JIS News that the upcoming reforms and initiatives such as an electronic land titling system, Customs reforms and tax collection will improve Jamaica's performance on the global ease of doing business rankings, and will help the country to be more appealing to investors.
“In terms of the Doing Business Report, in 2013 we were at 91 out of 185 countries…we took a big leap in 2015 down to 58 out of 189 countries. In the Global Competitiveness Report we have gone from number 97 down to 75 last year and in the Logistics Performance Index we did extremely well in 2014, down to number 70, and ongoing implementation of these reforms will improve our rankings even further,” Edwards says.
Elaborating on the benefits of the reforms, she notes that the single electronic window which is being established through the Port Community System will allow paperless trading with Jamaica, while the business registration superform will allow people to register their business fully online by end of the year.
“We have also seen the operationalisation of credit bureaus that has helped small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to credit and the secured transaction framework which allows the use of personal and private property as collateral for loans with banks. These are things that have helped us a lot to move up the rankings,” Edwards states.
She says critical areas for improvement have been identified with measures being discussed for implementation.
“We are very aware of where we are lagging in performance and the chief area is in trading across borders, where we are at number 131, so we are really focused on a trade facilitation agenda which will help us to reduce the obstacles and barriers to export, in addition to the cost of exporting,” Edwards notes.
Another area being considered is the process in registering property, with Jamaica currently placed in 123rd position in the Doing Business Report.
She says that the implementation of the electronic land titling programme will be a huge factor in rectifying this issue.
The cost of enforcing contracts, improving night courts and accelerating the pace at which matters are brought before the courts and dealt with are other areas of concern.
“So, there are things that we are doing that are going to make the lives of business people easier, such as the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) and the Port Community System that will simplify the whole trading system of getting goods in and taking goods out,” Edwards explains, adding that Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is going into phase two of its reform agenda, which will simplify the whole process of import and export.
“In another year to 18 months you will see a transformation of the Jamaican business environment which will mean going online and setting up your business, paying your taxes online at different centres across the country. You will have a public portal for development approvals, you will have a new Building Act that will give you transparency of what and where you can build, and you will be able to go online and register as an exporter,” Edwards says.
“So, we are in a transformation process and the exporting public and business sector also need to take onboard their responsibility for adopting the new systems and ensuring that they are geared up and ready to take advantage of them… so you have to get online and get up-to-date, because that is going to be the basis of how you interact with the Government in the future,” Edwards says.