In May 2019, the World Bank and International Financial Corporation will commence collection of data that will be evaluated for publication in their 17th report on the Ease of Doing Business Index: Doing Business 2020. In the current one, Jamaica ranks 75th, out of the 190 countries, which is below its rank four years ago.
One would expect the Government to be bothered by this and make a concerted effort to improve the outcome. Instead, Jamaica seems destined to its fourth consecutive fall in rank, because sufficient changes have not been made to laws and regulations that govern the operation of Small, and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs).
Quoting from “Doing Business 2019”, “It is important to have effective rules in place that are easy to follow and understand. To realize economic gains, reduce corruption, and encourage SMEs to flourish, unnecessary red tape should be eliminated”.
In a letter titled “What’s being Done About ‘Doing Business’?” published in the Jamaica Observer on 4th December 2019, I recommended that our Government aim to be the first Latin American and Caribbean nation in the top 50 economies by consistently implementing no less than four reforms annually. Some may argue that time would not permit, but I disagree.
Doing Business overall-ranks are aggregated on assessment of 10 areas in the life of a business. In Jamaica’s case, the five worse-ranked areas are: (i) Trading Across Borders, (ii) Registering property, (iii) Enforcing Contracts, (iv) Paying Taxes, and (v) Getting Electricity. All have ranks worse than 110 and have been so for at least five years.
In fact, all are getting worse resulting in our lower ranks. These are the areas most in need of reform, especially by a country with aspirations of being amongst the top ten economies of the world. Based on the Budget Debate so far, changes are proposed for especially “Paying Taxes”, but these are too late for inclusion in the next evaluation cycle.
Hopefully Doing Business 2021 will show a greater effort made. I leave you with another quote from the current report: “Any rational government that cares about the economic well-being and advancement of its constituency pays special attention to laws and regulations affecting small and medium-size enterprises.”