Business super form is super slow — Tufton

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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THE recently introduced super form has made registering a business take 60 per cent longer, while it hasn't reduced the cost, according to Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) estimates.

Its introduction in January was supposed to make setting up business easier, enabling entrepreneurs to go to a single location —
the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) — for their company's paperwork.

"What was to have been a more efficient process has resulted in a longer time to complete the business registration process, and no reduction in costs," said CaPRI co-executive director, Christopher Tufton, in his address to the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) at their monthly meeting yesterday. "Because the IT infrastructure is not yet in place... it increases the amount of time it takes to register a company from six days to 10 days."

The COJ currently has limited capacity to process the consolidated form, according to Tufton, who said that the state agency now has to co-ordinate the "transfer of information to all the relevant agencies involved in company registration, without the benefit of the networked technology platform".

"The Super Form by itself, then, is super slow and does not serve the purpose for which it was intended," he said. "In fact, it is now apparent that by itself, in its current IT platform-less configuration, the super form could actually impact negatively our ranking on the Doing Business index."

Jamaica was ranked 23 of 189 countries on the criterion of ease of registering a company, according to the 2014 World Bank and IFC's Doing Business Report.

On the other hand, the country's business entry density rate of 1.11 companies registered for every 1,000 working age persons is extremely low by global standards.

"In comparison, Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole averages 6.6 for business entry density, and the world's average is 11, in that same year," said the CaPRI co-executive director.

The top three countries in the World Bank ranking for 2014 are New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore, in that order, and in the region Puerto Rico is top with a ranking of 18.

In terms of waiting time, whereas Jamaica used to take six days to register a business, it takes half a day in New Zealand, five days in Canada and three in Singapore. It takes six days in Puerto Rico, according to the report.

But the cost of registering a business ranged from U$135 to US$180 among the top two in the world and Puerto Rico compared to US$234 in Jamaica. It cost US$301 to register a business in Singapore, although when compared to the income per capita, the cost of setting up a business is far more expensive than the other four.

Business entry density rates are also much higher in the top three countries — from 7.6 to 15 companies are registered for every 1,000 persons there.

Tufton added: "In keeping with the IMF stipulations and the Government's aim to improve the business environment; our policy makers must move speedily to: establish an interconnected technology platform across the key agencies responsible for completing the registration process, as per the MEFP; allow for access to remote online registration, including credit or debit card payment for the service; provide online tracking of the registration process; allow for online changes to existing company documents; and offer electronic storage of companies' documentation."

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