Mon | Dec 16, 2019

Business at Bolt speed! - PM urges Jamaicans to boost productivity

Published:Friday | November 15, 2019 | 12:34 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican track star Usain Bolt. File
Jamaican track star Usain Bolt. File

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaica’s government services and private sector must become more productive in order to be competitive, adopting the velocity of athletics star Usain Bolt in speeding up business transactions, says Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Addressing yesterday’s Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS) in Montego Bay, Holness was upbeat that Jamaica’s ranking in the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report – rating the country at 71 out of 190 countries in doing business and 79 out of 140 in competitiveness – made it ripe for investment. But he acknowledged that the nation had to do more to attract more investments.

“It’s not a bad ranking for a country of Jamaica’s stage of development, but it is not sufficient to promote the level of investment that we are seeking, so we are not satisfied with that,” said Holness. “Jamaica must become the Usain Bolt of small developing economies when it comes to the ease of doing business and the facilitation of business.”

Although the country ranks highly in the ease of opening a business, entrepreneurs have lamented that bureaucracy entangling transactions and processes such as licensing approvals hamper productivity.

In seeking to give an assurance of Jamaica’s readiness, Holness said that the Cabinet recently received a report from the trade facilitation task force, which gave him optimism about the removal of trade hurdles.

“One of the things that we have put in place, and I received a very good presentation at our Cabinet meeting on Monday, is the trade facilitation task force that maps and drives the implementation of trade-facilitation measures deemed critical to support economic growth,” said Holness.

“This includes the launch of Jamaica Single Window For Trade (JSWFT), which supports the automated system for customs data, and the ASYCUDA programme ... . JSWFT will allow traders or their agents to lodge permit and licence requests through a single transitional point to fulfil all import- and export-related regulatory requirements,” the prime minister added.

Holness said that in order to create business opportunities and stimulate demand, regional investors should coalesce around the five pillars Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has pitched to diversify the tourism industry for growth: gastronomy, sports and entertainment, health and wellness, knowledge-based economy, and shopping.

“The development of the five networks will serve to further bolster Jamaica’s attractiveness as an all-purpose, diverse tourism destination and drive interest in the construction of rooms and the acquisition of properties to meet increasing demands as travellers become aware and curious about the region and also, more importantly, about Jamaica,” said Holness.

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