'Jamaica, no problem!'

'Jamaica, no problem!'

Editor's Write

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

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Too often we hear complaints about poor customer service, shoddy treatment and most of all the excessive delays in processing at businesses and government offices. The truth is that though Jamaica ranks higher than other regional states in ease of doing business, the experiences point to an urgent need to step up the game.

A businessman recounted his experiences while trying to purchase a car for his wife. He visited the downtown showroom and had a chat with the salesman about the choice of car and reviewed the many options before deciding on a crossover “because my wife drives like Lewis Hamilton at a grand prix”.

But he complained that it was a few weeks before he could present his wife with her gift car. The discussion gravitated to which areas should be revised to speed up the processes. He admitted that we are not yet at the stage of Carvana where all the transactions are online, and the car ferried to your home. But he felt that we should be aiming to get there.

His experience points to a need to revamp many of the business processes we encounter daily and which consume a lot of time and patience. The answer is in the use of technology to make many of the requirements far easier and less time consuming.

For example, why do we still rely on faxes and while always insisting on the originals? Is this a holdover of the bearer's role in delivering documents from one office to another.

Governments have often promoted one-shop-stops to encourage speedier processing of business by both local and international investors. Yet complaints persist about the length of time these activities take and retention of old-fashioned practices in a digital world.

Nearly every business or public office is computerised to capture information available for sharing in an instant. Yet the trek from office to office continues. It's a consumption of valuable time, energy and very often leads to frustration.

It is time for a reworking or overhaul of systems implemented on a digital platform. Such a move is key to pushing Jamaica further up the ranking of the Ease of Doing Business Index maintained by the World Bank. Jamaica's ranking is higher than every other Caribbean country, a position which should not allow for complacency or boasting. The 2020 report covers 12 areas of business regulation. They include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency. These factors all influence the country's ease of doing business score and ease of doing business ranking. Improvement in these areas should be high on the list of the freshly minted Administration, and Prime Minister Holness should set up an inter-ministerial grouping to push this agenda. After all, digitisation is already on the Government's priorities with eGov taking the lead towards a dedicated authority.

Private sector organisations are also making moves in this direction and should respond to an earlier call from the former Technology Minister Fayval Williams, for a partnership. It is now up to the newly appointed minister Daryl Vaz to renew that call and forge the alliance.

Stepping up the training of our workforce in digital skills for the future of work and a higher level of customer service is sure to benefit many sectors and lead to a higher level of productivity, earnings and even sustained profits, all built on a platform of excellence.

Here is an opportunity for Jamaica to show the world that it excels not just in sports and entertainment but in transforming business processes in both the public and private sectors for the benefit of all.

Then we can honestly say, “Jamaica, no problem!”

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