Upgrade local government infrastructure to improve business climate, says IMF
Measures to improve the business climate and reduce red tape include upgrading all local authorities and commenting agencies involved in development approvals, according to the latest report under Jamaica's standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Reforms also include, starting by March 2017, regulatory review of licensing, permitting and regulatory processes in fisheries, veterinary, agricultural, pharmaceutical, health and quality-control divisions of government aimed at boosting efficiency and business competitiveness.
According to the policy matrix for implementation underlying the memorandum of economic and financial policies, the Government is required to complete the public procurement regulations and the handbook of public sector procurement procedures by March 2017.
Under the agreement, the Government is also required to implement electronic submission of development approval applications and mandatory use of the Application Management and Data Automation (AMANDA) system for development approvals and table in Parliament amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act and Local Improvements Act and regulations by May 2017.
It is also expected to complete public portal Module 2 by September 2017, and complete upgrade of infrastructure to all local authorities and commenting agencies by December 2017.
In addition, it has committed to completing improvements to the development approval process, including finalisation of the national spatial plan - to provide a framework to guide national development and investment decisions - by October 2017.
By March 2017, it is expected to table the Building Act in Parliament and complete the development orders for all parishes by October 2017.
In December last year, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie said the Government would be carrying out an assessment of parish council buildings to identify those in need of repairs.
He cited the St Thomas Parish Council building as among the facilities that require critical attention.
"I am making a commitment to you that in the next financial year, we are going to try and make provisions to start something for you," he said while speaking at a meeting in Montego Bay, St James.
McKenzie said work was far advanced on a new building for the Westmoreland Parish Council, which should be completed in February 2017.
The minister said upgrade of the infrastructure was intended to bring all municipalities on par with those in Clarendon, Kingston and St Andrew, St James, St Elizabeth and St Mary, which said have model facilities.
In December also, Mayor of Kingston and St Andrew Delroy Williams said the Municipal Corporation will be undertaking a comprehensive programme of infrastructural development across the city.
Pivotal to those developments, he said, was timely implementation of provisions under the Town and Country Planning Act, Local Improvement Act and Building Act.