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World Bank rep charges Jamaican leaders to apply specific doing business measures

Observer staff reporter

Monday, June 18, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — A World Bank representative is appealing to Jamaican leaders to put systematic and specific measures in place to correct the fluctuating ratings for ease of doing business on the island.

The multilateral lending agency representative has pledged her agency's support for Jamaica in that regard.

“Since 2009, Jamaica made a lot of progress in improving its doing business reforms, but you can see that it ebbs and flows. And so my plea is, going forward, to have a systematic and a specific approach to reducing the cost of doing business through doing business rankings. And we stand ready to help you in this process,” said Catherine Masinde, practice manager, Global Business Regulation Unit, World Bank Group.

“We have worked with many governments to make the process a little more consistent,” she added.

Jamaica is ranked 70 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business report, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings.

Masinde noted, “Jamaica is not doing too badly within the region, but it is not doing good enough.”

“It's doing much better than the Caribbean average, but my feeling is that more can be done, particularly on those indicators that go beyond starting up a business. You do not want businesses starting and them dying soon after, because what kills business is the burden of regulation after they have already registered. You don't want that to happen and JAMPRO (Jamaica Promotions Corporation), I think, is on a good path — they have begun to think through what else ails the business once they have invested,”the IMF representative stated.

Masinde was speaking on the final day of JAMPRO's staging of Jamaica Investment Forum (JIF) 2018, held under the theme 'Connect for Business', at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last week.

“As a starting point, you can [have] reform in getting electricity, in dealing with construction permits, and so on and so forth. As they say, once you learn to ride a bicycle you never forget. So the bicycle that you rode at starting up the business can actually be ridden in trading across borders. So my plea to you is to learn from yourselves. Don't go to Singapore, go to the business registry and find out what it is they are doing right that can be replicated across government, and we do have a methodology to help you doing that,” she said.

“We did this with India at the national level and also at the subnational level, and within two years they have implemented more than 160 reforms and they are still growing. We started with China in December of last year by preparing a reform memo with them; they are right now in DC working with the doing business review team and they have already logged more than 60 reforms. So it can be done — you can learn from yourselves.”

However, she encouraged potential investors to invest in Jamaica.

“All that I can say is that Jamaica is making good progress and if you want to invest in Jamaica, please do because Jamaica is on a trajectory of improving its ranking, but it has to do this in a consistent manner,” she remarked.

Meanwhile, Galina Sotirova, country representative, World Bank Group, also expressed confidence in the future of the Jamaican economy.

“I am very confident that really Jamaica is going to reach its debt target in a few years from now,” Sotirova said.

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