Ja leaps in com­pet­i­tive­ness rank­ings

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Steven Jack­son Se­nior Busi­ness Re­porter steven.jack­son@glean­erjm.com

JA­MAICA SCORED a marked im­prove­ment on the Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex to rank 75 among 138 coun­tries, its sec­ond best stand­ing in a decade.

Crime and gov­ern­ment in­ef­fi­ciency, how­ever, weak­ened the coun­try’s gains.

Ja­maica jumped 11 spots, up from 86, ac­cord­ing to the an­nual Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness Report 2016/17 re­leased late Septem­ber by the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum (We­fo­rum).

The world’s most com­pet­i­tive coun­tries are Switzer­land, Sin­ga­pore, the United States, the Nether­lands and Ger­many, re­spec­tively.

The two most prob­lem­atic fac­tors for do­ing busi­ness in Ja­maica re­lated to crime and vi­o­lence fol­lowed by in­ef­fi­cient gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy, taxes, cor­rup­tion and poor work ethic.

The We­fo­rum Ex­ec­u­tive Opin­ion Sur­vey asked lo­cal re­spon­dents to se­lect the five most prob­lem­atic fac­tors for do­ing busi­ness and rank them be­tween 1 and 5. These fac­tors formed part of the com­pet­i­tive­ness report.

We­fo­rum’s lo­cal part­ners in­cluded the Mona School of Busi­ness & Man­age­ment at the Univer­sity of the West Indies.

12 CRI­TE­RIA MEA­SURED

The over­all com­pet­i­tive rank­ing mea­sures 12 cri­te­ria. Ja­maica’s low­est sub-rank­ing was in the cat­e­gory of small mar­ket size at 119. Its macroe­co­nomic per­for­mance was also low at 112, while it ended at 90 in the area of higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing. Com­par­a­tively, the Zim­babwe macroe­con­omy, which suf­fered hy­per­in­fla­tion in re­cent years, ranked 101 or 11 spots bet­ter than Ja­maica in macroe­co­nomic per­for­mance.

In the over­all stand­ings, Bar­ba­dos re­mained the high­est-ranked Caribbean coun­try at 72, fol­lowed closely by Ja­maica at 75, Do­mini­can Repub­lic at 92 and Trinidad & Tobago at 94. The report did not rank Puerto Rico, Guyana and Haiti in this edi­tion.

Ja­maica’s per­for­mance has vac­il­lated over a 10-year span of com­pet­i­tive­ness re­ports. Specif­i­cally, it ranked 67 in the

world in 2006/07 and con­tin­u­ously nose­dived to 107 among 142 coun­tries in the 2011/12 report be­fore climb­ing back into 75th in the world.

The coun­try would have ben­e­fited from im­prove­ments in its busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment through quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive con­di­tion­al­i­ties im­posed by an In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF)backed eco­nomic re­form pro­gramme.

Ja­maica con­tin­ues on that tra­jec­tory to meet its obli­ga­tions with in­fla­tion and the cur­rent ac­count deficit be­ing con­tained. Growth is pro­jected at 1.7 per cent for FY2016/17 with improving prospects for in­vest­ment, in­clud­ing in tourism and strong agri­cul­tural re­cov­ery, ac­cord­ing to the IMF’s 13th quar­terly re­view of the re­form pro­gramme.

The mul­ti­lat­eral agency, how­ever, ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment at the rate of poverty, say­ing it is “high at about 20 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion”. This re­mains a con­cern in the We­fo­rum report, which lists it among fac­tors most trou­bling to do­ing busi­ness in Ja­maica.

In this Septem­ber 19, 2016 photo, the po­lice tape off a crime scene in the com­mer­cial area of down­town Kingston af­ter thieves smashed in a win­dow of a store. Ja­maica has im­proved in the lat­est world com­pet­i­tive­ness rank­ings, but crime re­mains a black mark on the coun­try as a place for busi­ness.

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