Business

Doing business just got harder

Jamaica slips two spots in World Bank rankings

BY CAMILO THAME Business Co-ordinator ?thamec@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2012    

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JAMAICA has slipped another two places in terms of ease of doing business relative to the rest of the world.

Measures aimed at making tax payments easier and importation quicker were not enough to stop Jamaica's ranking from falling from 88 in last year’s Doing Business 2012 report to 90 this year.

“Jamaica made paying taxes easier for companies by allowing joint filing and payment of all social security contributions, and it reduced the time to import by allowing customs entries to be logged at night,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, the director of global indicators and analysis at the World Bank Group.

Jamaica introduced joint filing and payment of all five types of social security contributions that firms must make, while it facilitated overnight processing of Customs declarations by extending the hours for lodging Customs entries.

The result was that the number of tax filings and payments a company makes on average fell from 72 per year to 36, and the number of hours spent filing tax returns each year was reduced from 414 to 368, although it was still higher in 2012 than the six countries to overtake it on that measure.

Moreover, the time it took to import goods to Jamaica fell from 22 days to 17 days, while the time to export fell from 21 to 20 days.

But five countries which were ranked lower than Jamaica last year did better in 2012 — Greece, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Serbia and Uruguay. Barbados, which wasn't ranked last year, also debuted higher than this year's ranking for Jamaica.

The country slipped only two places because four countries that were ranked higher last year - Solomon Islands, Zambia, Maldives and Grenada — fell below in the latest report that surveyed 185 countries in June.

In Jamaica, the number of days and procedures to start a business remained among the best, but there was no improvement in dealing with construction permits, while the cost of electricity per company, compared to income per capita, increased from 355 per cent to 557 per cent.

Five of the six countries to overtake Jamaica in the ranking had cheaper electricity, as a proportion of income per capita. Sri Lanka's electricity cost 1,257 per cent of per capita income, up from 1,192 per cent in June 2012.

The cost of exporting — at US$1,500 per container — was higher than the six countries to increase their rankings above Jamaica, while the cost to import which increased from US$1,420 per container to US$1,560 was higher than most of the countries to climb above it on the chart. It cost more to import goods to Barbados and Serbia.

Grenada, which ranked 72nd in last year’s report ranking, fell to 100th place, mainly because almost all the measures remained the same, except the costs of dealing with construction permits, getting electricity and starting a business.

Grenada also saw significant improvement in the time to import and export goods by implementing the ASYCUDA World electronic data interchange system, which, at nine days each way, made it far quicker to trade across borders than in Jamaica.

Regionally, Jamaica did well in terms of closing the gap between itself and the best performing economies since 2005 - it reduced the gap by 4.6 percentage points. Dominican Republic did better by closing the gap by 8.8 percentage points, while Trinidad and Tobago closed it by 2.6 percentage points.

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