Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Business environment strengthening project at risk

Published:Wednesday | January 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM

A US$50-million project to strengthen the business environ-ment in Jamaica for private-sector investment, which is jointly funded by the Government and World Bank, could be at risk of achieving its objectives.

An audit of the accounting records and financial trans-actions of the Foundations for Competitiveness and Growth Project (FCGP) found that despite an improvement in the project implementation rate from eight per cent in 2015-2016 to 19.5 per cent as at March 2017, the roll-out of activities continues to lag behind.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica attributes the slow pace of implementation to the lengthy procurement process and the lack of technical expertise at the ministries, departments and agencies.

An audit carried out by the Auditor General's Department showed that the project has spent US$5.2 million of the US$29.2 million allocated for procurement of goods and services since its implementation in September 2014. The project runs until June 2020.

"The slow implementation of project activities put the project at risk of not achieving the intended outcome of enhancing competition in the business environment and upgrading small and medium enterprises' capabilities.

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis urged the management of the project to take corrective action by introducing proper project-management strategies to ensure activities are completed and the intended outcome is achieved.

Under the project, both existing and new businesses will benefit from streamlined business regulations that save costs and decrease incentives for rent-seeking.