Wed | Mar 20, 2019

Don't stymie funeral operators

Published:Wednesday | July 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Occupational licensing refers to the process by which governments institute the qualifications required to practise a trade or profession, so that only licensed practitioners are legally recognised to receive pay for working in the profession.

Major players in the funeral industry are calling for similar regulations to exclude rogue operators. Though their concerns are not unjustified, they should not stifle the wave of entrepreneurship in the field. Industries with low barriers to entry are more likely to benefit from competition and create jobs in the long term.

If public health and safety are important to industry leaders, they ought to create an online registry of official players and best practices. As a result, customers will be able to make better choices.

Lobbying for greater regulations will only impose costs on prospective businesses and increase prices for customers. Research has estimated that restrictions from occupational licensing can result in fewer jobs, and an annual cost to consumers of US$203 billion (Kleiner et al, 2011).

In fact, economic studies have indicated more cases showing that there is a greater likelihood of occupational licensing reducing employment than improving improving the quality and safety of services (Kleiner, 2013). Further, according to the Archbridge Institute (2018), it is also associated with lower economic mobility. Such a finding ought not to be surprising.

Prominent players in the funeral industry may set standards, but they must not undermine the economic freedom of those seeking to enter the field. Rogue operators will eventually be forced to exit the market because of inferior products.

Jamaicans must be able to freely engage in commerce without the Government and Big Business putting obstacles in their paths.