Jermaine Francis, Gleaner Writer
The business community in Jamaica is lamenting that it is far too difficult for investors to start developments in the country and this is causing the island to loose billions in much needed revenues.
Christopher Zacca, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), said based on his estimation Jamaica was missing out on some $30 billion worth of investment opportunities because of continued bureaucracy.
Speaking against the background of a column penned by businessman Peter Melhado in yesterday's Gleaner, Zacca said there was a lot of doubling-up in the process to get major investments off the ground.
"We don't have a functional straightforward system for development approval, there is a lot of duplications in the system," Zacca said.
He agreed with Melhado that a single entity responsible for the setting up of businesses would be more attractive to investors.
In his column titled 'A bold approach to unlocking investment for jobs, growth', published yesterday, Melhado, CEO of the ICD Group, said the country has lost out on a possible investment of some $1.2 billion and 200 jobs from his company because of the number of red tapes they encountered.
Referring to the process to get the investment project off the ground as a "thoroughly frustrating and quite frankly, baffling experience", Melhado said the ICD Group had spent two years in an effort to start development on a piece of land in Greater Portmore, St Catherine.
He compared this to the company's recent acquisition of 50 per cent in a Canadian company, which, according to him, took less than three weeks.
He called on the Government to consider setting up a 'one-stop shop' much like the one the previous Jamaica Labour Party administration had created.
Melhado expressed that this would "send a signal that we (the country, through its leadership) view time as a precious commodity; as critical to growth, as capital investment".
Metry Seaga, deputy president of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association, agreed with his colleagues that the process for doing business in Jamaica is too cumbersome and should be changed in short order.
However, he said it should not just be about having a single unit, but making the departments that already exist more efficient.
"It is less about a one-stop shop, in my opinion, and more about making the shops that we have efficient," he said.
Seaga added that an inefficient single department, would be just as bad as what currently obtains in the public sector.
Meanwhile, checks with the investment and commerce ministry revealed that the ministry will be launching an initiative to rectify this problem in the coming week.