With Jamaica plummeting five places in the latest survey of the ease of doing business in Jamaica produced by the World Bank, the Portia Simpson Miller Cabinet announced yesterday that it has approved a single form that will be used for the registration of new companies.
Minister with responsibility for information, Sandrea Falconer, who made the announcement yesterday, said the form would eliminate "the current onerous process" which requires new business owners to complete over a dozen forms and visit several government agencies to register their businesses.
The World Bank's Doing Business 2013 report ranks Jamaica 90th out of 185 countries, down five places from last year.
Falconer's announcement was quickly embraced by private-sector leaders who, for years, have been clamouring for the Government to remove some of the bureaucracies in the business-registration process.
Brian Pengelley, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), said the move was "a right step in that direction".
"That's welcome news and, hopefully, they can make it happen sooner rather than later," Pengelley said.
"The challenge of opening a business is big enough with getting financing in place and suppliers organised, so anyhow we can help simplify the process is very good."
The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, through its president, Francis Kennedy, said the announcement was "the best news out of the Cabinet in a long, long, long time".
Said Kennedy: "Hopefully, it's one form that goes through one approval process so that you can get approval in a couple of weeks instead of six months or a year."
Falconer, who was speaking during the weekly Jamaica House press briefing, said the new form would capture all the information that is required by the various government agencies involved in the process, "thus eliminating the need to visit several offices and completing various forms".
Currently, persons registering new businesses are also required to complete application forms for a tax registration number, the National Insurance Scheme, the National Housing Trust as well as to obtain a tax-compliance certificate, among other things.
The information minister said Cabinet has also given approval for legislation to be enacted that will give effect to the new form as well as to repeal sections of legislation that require similar forms.
She said Cabinet has given approval for the issuing of drafting instructions to the chief parliamentary counsel and "directed that all the relevant entities treat the project as one of high priority".
Falconer said these agencies have also been directed to provide their support and cooperation for the project so it can be completed within the first quarter of this calendar year.