Jampro to launch new business gateway portal
From left: Norman Naar, VP of investment and linkages; Jampro President Shullette Cox; Gabriel Heron, VP of marketing and opportunity packaging; Shane Angus, interim VP for exports, share in a photo following a Jamaica Observer Business Forum held last month at Jampro's headquarter in Kingston. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

To facilitate a greater ease of doing business with the country, State marketer Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) said it is now in the final stages of rolling out the Jamaica Business Gateway.

The platform, which will serve as an online portal for government processes, is to allow members of the private sector to readily access some of the essential services needed for business development.

"We will be launching this in another couple weeks and we are going to be starting off with about 13 business processes that entities can apply for online right through to decision-making. It includes various incentives, cannabis licensing, the divestment of crown lands, among a number of other processes," stated Jampro President Shullette Cox, providing update at a recent Jamaica Observer Business Forum, while indicating that much more information will be revealed to the public at a later date and as her agency moves closer to the official launch.

Now working with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) to also develop an ease of doing business report, similar to the World Bank's discontinued global publication, Cox said work in this area has now resumed after an initial slow-down period.

Jampro offices along Trafalgar Road in Kingston(Photo: Garfield Robinson)

"We are continuing with what is being called the 'Government Bureaucracy Scorecard' which is being done in partnership with the JCC. Market Research Services Ltd has started work on it— it was delayed as we wanted them to do much like a pre-survey to identify some private sector pain points before digging into it in terms of the challenges," Cox noted.

"We just gave final comments on the survey instruments and the expectation is that it will go into market by May," she added.

The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Report, which was conducted biannually, sought to rank countries based on regulations that either enhanced or constrained their business activities when assessed against some 11 indicators. After citing some irregularities with the studies in 2018 and 2020, the bank in 2021 announced plans to discontinue the report.

Retaining elements of the global report which President Cox said has long been used as a guide, the localised scorecard will also conduct its own assessments across some ten similar areas.

"When the Doing Business Report was discontinued a few years ago, we continue to use the major headings as a guide. It had 10 focus areas, some of which includes: starting a business, getting credit, paying taxes, dealing with construction permits, registering property, etc. While we continue to have a reformed agenda around some of the areas, we also continue to identify ways to implement them," Cox said.

Pinpointing issues such as the securing of construction permits and gaining access to the requisite development approvals among those most challenging, Cox said that a committee currently being chaired by Minister Aubyn Hill was actively working to see how best they can iron out kinks to make difficult processes much easier.

"What we continue to do under the National Competitiveness Council is to extend our focus on these reforms. The minister recently chaired a meeting with the permanent secretaries of two key ministries along with the National Environment and Planning Agency [NEPA] and the private sector to see how best we can ease pressure in some areas. We are also now doing work in making it easier to register property as we look at the list of things in the doing business reform," she said.

To properly sensitise businesses, vice-president of marketing and opportunity packaging Gabriel Heron further said that a full communication campaign has been developed to inform stakeholders and the market about some of the changes.

"We expect to roll out this communication campaign sometime this month following Cabinet approval," he said.

BY KELLARAY MILES Business reporter milesk@jamaicaobserver.com

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