Ja falls in Do­ing Busi­ness rank ings

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

But still gets thumbs up for im­prove­ments

JA­MAICA RANKED 67th in the global Do­ing Busi­ness Re­port 2017, pub­lished Tues­day, which ac­tu­ally bet­ters Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic and Panama, the fastest-grow­ing coun­tries in the Amer­i­cas.

Still the re­port gave mixed mes­sages on Ja­maica, de­scrib­ing the move­ment in the rank­ing as an im­prove­ment de­spite wors­en­ing in nom­i­nal terms from a re­vised 65 glob­ally in the pre­vi­ous re­port.

Ja­maica ben­e­fited from im­prove­ments to its cus­toms back-of­fice net­work, the elim­i­na­tion or merg­ing of taxes other than profit tax, and the al­lowance for more de­ductible ex­penses or de­pre­ci­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port pub­lished by the World Bank and its IFC af­fil­i­ate.

“Both Gre­nada and Ja­maica made sig­nif­i­cant up­grades to their elec­tronic plat­forms, re­sult­ing in a sub­stan­tial de­crease in the time re­quired for in­ter­na­tional trade pro­cesses. Their sys­tems al­low for the elec­tronic sub­mis­sion of cus­toms dec­la­ra­tions and sup­port­ing trade doc­u­ments. As a re­sult, cus­toms bro­kers no longer need to go to sev­eral cus­toms clear­ance of­fi­cers or gov­ern­ment agen­cies to val­i­date doc­u­ments,” the re­port said.

In re­ac­tions to the re­port, con­sul­tant at­tor­ney and for­mer Con­trac­tor Gen­eral Greg Christie ar­gued that the is­land slipped in the abil­ity to start busi­nesses, which tra­di­tion­ally was a high point for the is­land’s rank.

“It is clear that Ja­maica fell down on start­ing a busi­ness, while im­prov­ing on pay­ing taxes, and so on,” Christie told Gleaner Busi­ness, while af­firm­ing, as the re­port’s au­thors did, that there was “im­prove­ment in the score”.

He, how­ever, high­lighted the re­port’s lack of fo­cus on ad­dress­ing is­sues of cor­rup­tion and ac­count­abil­ity.

Dennis Chung, the CEO of the Pri­vate Sec­tor Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Ja­maica (PSOJ), said the re­sults were not en­tirely un­ex­pected as Ja­maica had not made a lot of progress on tam­ing bu­reau­cracy.

“... We have been point­ing out from the PSOJ that bu­reau­cracy and the ease of do­ing busi­ness re­mains a huge prob­lem – only out­done by crime,” Chung said.

“Fact is that un­less we ad­dress these two is­sues, then we will never re­alise the sus­tain­able growth above three per cent to move our de­vel­op­ment for­ward.”

The re­port, which mea­sured the ease of do­ing busi­ness in 190 coun­tries, ranked the top 10 as New Zealand, Sin­ga­pore, Den­mark, Hong Kong SAR, China, the Re­pub­lic of Korea, Nor­way, the United King­dom, the United States and Swe­den, re­spec­tively. The pre­vi­ous sur­vey ranked 189 economies.

CON­TIN­U­ING TO OPEN UP

Ja­maica con­tin­ues to open up for in­vestors by im­ple­ment­ing a num­ber of re­forms in­flu­enced by mul­ti­lat­eral con­di­tion­al­i­ties. This re­sulted in two straight years of im­prove­ments with the is­land jump­ing seven spots in the pre­vi­ous re­port to 64. It was re­vised to 65 in the 2017 re­port. Prior to that rise, Ja­maica dipped in the rank­ings for nine straight years.

The joint World Bank and IFC flag­ship Do­ing Busi­ness re­port analy­ses reg­u­la­tions that ap­ply to busi­nesses dur­ing their life cy­cle, in­clud­ing start-up and op­er­a­tions, trad­ing across bor­ders, pay­ing taxes, and re­solv­ing in­sol­vency.

Chung lauded Ainsley Pow­ell and his team at Tax Ad­min­is­tra­tion Ja­maica A screen grab of the ‘Do­ing Busi­ness 2017’ re­port re­leased on Tues­day Oc­to­ber 25, 2016.

(TAJ) for the im­prove­ment in the ease of pay­ing taxes and trad­ing across bor­ders. “[They have] been try­ing to put new ini­tia­tives in place and the TAJ con­tin­ues to be the star in the pub­lic sec­tor. They still have chal­lenges to ad­dress but rel­a­tively so,” he said.

“Ma­jor Reece has also been push­ing re­form at Cus­toms es­pe­cially work­ing on ASYCUDA. Still, more needs to be done,” added the PSOJ CEO.

The Do­ing Busi­ness re­port, sub­ti­tled ‘Equal Op­por­tu­ni­ties for All’, in­di­cated that a record 137 economies around the world adopted key re­forms that made it eas­ier to start and op­er­ate small and medium-sized busi­nesses. It found that

de­vel­op­ing coun­tries car­ried out more than 75 per cent of the 283 re­forms in the past year, with Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa ac­count­ing for over one-quar­ter of all re­forms.

The re­port in­di­cates that Do­ing Busi­ness does not mea­sure all as­pects of the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment that mat­ter to firms and in­vestors.

Since the 2015 re­port, the re­searchers adopted a new method­ol­ogy to mea­sure how close each econ­omy is to global best prac­tices in busi­ness reg­u­la­tion. A higher score in­di­cates a more ef­fi­cient busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and stronger le­gal in­sti­tu­tions.

Bu­reau­cracy and the ease of do­ing busi­ness re­main a huge prob­lem – only out­done by crime.

THE GLEANER, WED­NES­DAY, OC­TO­BER 26, 2016

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