Business climate needs fixing for growth

BY PAUL ALLEN Business reporter allenp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 18, 2012

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JAMAICA must quickly fix its poor business environment if it's to start growing.


State Minister in The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce Sharon Folkes-Abrahams said there is "an urgent need for qualitative improvements" in doing business locally. Although the country has made some advances in making entrepreneurship better, she said, there is much that still needs to be done.


Our performance in the World Bank's last Doing Business Report suggests that a lot needs to be done for businesses to grow and be more competitive, she said, adding that it's important that we support local products and companies.


The minister was speaking at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation's (JBDC) Fifth Annual Small Business Expo yesterday.


Jamaica ranked in the lower half of six of the measures used to determine the ease of doing business including getting electricity, registering property, securing credit and enforcing contracts. The country only did better than 13 others in paying taxes, ranking 172 of the 183 surveyed.


However, the Government considers entrepreneurship to be critical, she said, and has started a "number of initiatives towards achieving that objective".


One such initiative is the business registration form that will cut down on the hassle faced by business owners, Ffolkes-Abrahams said.


The form will integrate information, such as tax compliance certificate, tax registration number and general consumption tax datasheet, that's needed by several agencies including the Companies Office of Jamaica, Labour ministry and the Inland Revenue Department.


Improving the flow of information, ease of starting a business and filing taxes, obtaining various clearances and permits, and tackling corruption are some other areas to be addressed, she said.


This year will be a big one for the country as the combination of our involvement in the London Summer Olympics and celebrating our 50th year of Independence gives it a good opportunity to demonstrate its best to the world.


The Things Jamaica brand will be in London, she said, presenting the best local products.


The JBDC, an organisation that provides support services to businesses, is important to that work as they make "entrepreneurial ideas into reality", she said.


Almost 40 exhibitors displayed products in colourful booths at one of the Wyndham Kingston's transformed conference rooms.


Adults and students alike combed through the dozens of items being shown, most of who came with empty hands but walked away clutching purchases.


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