NSIPP Registry still a game-changer
On Friday, February 13, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton was decisive when he ordered the closure of the public search feature on the National Security Interest in Personal Property's (NSIPP) website.
There were concerns from important stakeholders - members of the public and financial institutions.
Since then, the ministry has facilitated a meeting with the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), the entity that manages the registry, and other important stakeholders, including financial institutions.
Financial institutions are now in the process of submitting their views on how the registry should function going forward.
The new-look registry will indubitably be the product of a collaborative, public-private effort.
These consultations demand that the focus needs be centred on the way forward.
However, notwithstanding the concerns that have been raised, the NSIPP remains a game-changer. That fact is impatient of debate.
The immediate benefits of the legislation - the Security Interests in Personal Property (SIPP) Act passed by Parliament in 2013 - that gave rise to the establishment of the registry had a huge impact on Jamaica's much-improved ranking on the World Bank's 2015 Doing Business Index.
We must not soon forget that the World Bank's Doing Business 2015 report spoke in glowing terms about the SIPP Act and the national registry. The report said, "Jamaica also made noteworthy improvements in the area of legal rights in the past year. It adopted a new law on secured transactions that broadens the range of assets that can be used as collateral, allows a general description of assets granted as collateral, and establishes a modern, unified, notice-based collateral registry."
Teething pains are expected with implementation of such a landmark mechanism that is designed to make accessing credit more affordable and less arduous for the man on the street.
Therefore, what is needed is not an 'extraction' of the SIPP Registry but the application of Oragel. We must resist the urge to take a hatchet to a situation that only requires a scalpel.
Returning to the way things were before the advent of the NSIPP is not the answer.
The new-look registry would have taken into account the privacy issues raised by members of the public but it will maintain the features that aided in Jamaica's impressive move up the World Bank's Doing Business Index.
Jamaica cannot afford to abdicate its enviable position of being the easiest place to do business in the Caribbean. And, there is little doubt that the SIPP Act contributed to that marquee move up the doing business matrix.
The registry was created to facilitate business and the SIPP Act is designed to allow for greater and cheaper access to credit, especially for MSMEs.
While we are sitting at the table ironing out the concerns that have been raised, it is important to note that the ease of access to the information on the registry was designed to facilitate all creditors and not just financial institutions because business - borrowing and lending - is also done outside of the walls of established financial institutions. We must not soon forget that small and medium-size businesses are two important drivers of economic growth.
The simple truth is that any attempt to limit the ease of access to the information on the registry might very well negatively impact Jamaica's improved ranking on the World Bank's Doing Business Index.
One of the suggestions on the table is to work with creditors to put only the necessary information on the registry. A person's date of birth and home address would not be classified as necessary.
I want to use this medium to let all stakeholders know that the consensus that will be reached on the new-look registry from the collaborative process that is on in earnest will not diminish Jamaica's reputation as the easiest place to do business in the Caribbean.
- Judith Ramlogan is CEO and registrar of the Companies Office of Jamaica. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.