By October 2019, the World Bank and International Financial Corporation will publish their 17th report on the Ease of Doing Business Index. Our Government has until May 2019 to attempt to influence the outcome of that report because only data available at that time will be considered for the report.
Referring to the report Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency, Navita Anganu-Ramroop lamented, in 'Jamaica Takes the Leap in Doing Business Indicators: 5 Lessons for the Wider Caribbean', that:
"Not all countries are bothered by rankings, and therefore not all countries make a concerted effort to change and attempt to improve same, failing to realize that the competitiveness of nations are equally important and necessary for the competitiveness of firms operating within the country."
Doing Business 2016 also stated that Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is one of the regions "with the smallest share of economies implementing regulatory reforms. ...". In fact, Jamaica and The Bahamas were the only Caribbean nations that actually improved their global ranking in that report.
Fast forward to Doing Business 2019: Training for Reform, “South Asia and LAC are the (only) two regions absent from the top 50 ranking”. Again, LAC has the “lowest share of reformers with 56% of economies”. Consequently, LAC had the “lowest average increase” in score, +0.22 points”.
For Doing Business 2016, Jamaica had made 4 reforms and moved from 71st to 64th out of 189 global economies. Since then, Jamaica has consistently fallen in rank to its current 75, having implemented only one reform over the year ending May 2018: a reduction from the 2 reforms that were implemented in the previous year.
In Doing Business 2019, Brazil is the only LAC economy to improve its ranking. Like Jamaica, it implemented 4 reforms, by which it was able to improve its rank from 125 to 109. In the previous year, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and The Bahamas improved their rankings after implementing at least 3 reforms.
Again, El Salvador had implemented 4 reforms and was the top performer: improving its rank from 95 to 73. But, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and The Bahamas have subsequently fallen in rank after implemented less than 3 reforms, just like Jamaica.
Jamaica’s National Competitiveness Council is optimistic the island can be ranked in the top 10 economies in the Doing Business 2021. This seems overly optimistic considering no LAC economy is currently within the top 50, Jamaica has consistently fallen in rank over the past 3 years, and only two years remain to the deadline.
More realistically, it is proposed that Jamaica aim to become a top 50 ranked economy by 2020, and our Government strive to implement at least 4 reforms annually. It is also important to realize that 11 of the 15 highest-ranked LAC nations are within the Caribbean Basin. So, Jamaica cannot afford to be slack in its effort to become competitive.