Fri | Nov 24, 2017

Jamaica slips in 'Doing Business' rankings

Published:Wednesday | November 1, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson

Jamaica worsened by three spots to rank 70 in the Doing Business Report 2018, released Tuesday by the World Bank.

The fall comes despite gains in the business environment - it's just that other economies performed even better in the pace of their reforms. Additionally, business confidence has been slipping as companies worry about rising crime.

"The message is that Jamaica is doing well but we have to do much better," said Galina Sotirova, World Bank country manager for Jamaica, in an interview with Gleaner Business.

Dennis Chung, chief executive at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, PSOJ, said the fall in the rankings tracks with lacklustre performance in key areas.

"It would appear that we continue to not understand that Jamaica is part of a world with other countries we have to compete with and so we don't think about performance in relative terms, and so other countries seem to have surpassed us," Chung said.

Sotirova indicated that the areas in which Jamaica can do better are the reform of construction permits; registering properties, which includes titles and transfer of properties; enforcing contracts; and paying taxes.

"Dealing with construction permits is a very lengthy procedure and there is scope for improving the procedures," said the country manager. "Jamaica has done well in reform of taxes, but there is still enormous scope for improvement," she added.

Of the 190 economies mapped in the report, Jamaica ranked 122 in the paying taxes category. Contract enforcement was even worse at 127, registering property 128 and trading across borders at 130.

Still, Jamaica ranks among the best globally in the area of Starting a Business, with a rank of 5. It takes three days to register a business, compared to 31 days back in 2002, the inaugural year of the report's publication. Each Doing Business report is dated in the year post its actual release date.

It also ranks well in the area of credit, at 20; and resolving insolvencies at 35.

Over the last 15 years, Jamaica has ranked third in the Latin America and Caribbean region for the implementation of the highest number of reforms at 25. It was bested by Mexico with 26 reforms and Colombia with 34 reforms.

Jamaica also ranks in the top 20 countries under the Getting Credit indicator, for its comprehensive credit reporting systems.

 

DISTANCE TO FRONTIER RANKING

 

The World Bank added that Jamaica is getting closer to global best practices in business regulations as measured by the Distance to Frontier ranking. Its score in the Distance to Frontier improved from 66.70 points last year to 67.27 points in the current report. It means Jamaica improved its business regulations in the last year.

"Jamaica made starting a business faster by reinstating next-day service for company incorporation. Jamaica improved the reliability of the electricity supply in Kingston by investing in the distribution network through several initiatives, including the installation of smart meters and distribution automation switches," said the World Bank in a press statement.

"Jamaica reduced the time for documentary compliance for importing by implementing a web-based customs data management platform, ASYCUDA World," the multilateral agency said.

The Latin American region's top-ranked economies are Mexico at 49, Peru at 58 and Colombia at 59. Overall, the region's economies continue to reform their business climate for small and medium enterprises, said the report, whose theme this year is 'Reforming to Create Jobs'.

It found that half of the region's 32 economies implemented reforms in the past year, bringing the total to 398 reforms in the 15 years of the Doing Business surveys.

El Salvador earned a notable spot in this year's global top-improving economies, with four reforms adopted during the past year.

Jamaica and the Dominican Republic implemented three reforms each in the past year. Both economies reduced the time to start a business and improved the reliability of electricity supply.

Worldwide, New Zealand came out on top in the rankings, followed by Singapore.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com