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Jamaica travelling along business-friendly path

Published:Tuesday | June 18, 2013 | 12:00 AM
The entrance to the Montego Bay Convention Centre where the fifth Biennial Jamaica-Diaspora Conference is under way in Montego Bay, St James. - photos by Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

In seeking to project Jamaica as a business-friendly destination, Julian Robinson, state minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, has indicated that investors could have their operations up and running within four to six months of expressing an interest in investing.

"If you come to the table clear about what you want to do and you have your financing already, the quickest we can turn around investment is three to six months," said Robinson during a panel discussion on investment opportunities during yesterday's first day of the fifth Biennial Jamaica-Diaspora Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St James.

However, Robinson made it clear that fitting into the given window would be dependent on investors doing things such as finding a facility, registering a company (which he says can be done quickly) and training and recruiting staff.

"Regardless of where you go, this is what you have to do," said Robinson. "As a country, we have been doing this for 13 to 14 years … if you have everything together, from a first visit to when you make a decision … I can say that in about four to six months, you can turn it (an investment) around."

For decades, Jamaica has been considered a prime location for investors. However, negative factors such as bureaucratic red tape and security concerns have been viewed as a stumbling block by some investors.

"This is good news coming from the minister," said Garnette Rose, managing director of Canada-based The Cloud City Group.

"This is perfect for individuals like myself … . This is what I am here to hear because as a Jamaican with plans for some serious investment in Jamaica, this will be crucial so I will soon find out if this is indeed a fact."

Several in attendance

Several investors from the United Kingdom and North America are in attendance at the three-day conference, which is being staged to explore opportunities for investment and trade within the Jamaican diaspora.

Against the background of complaints by investors, Government launched a bureaucracy hotline last year in a move designed to improve the business environment in Jamaica.

At the time of its launch, Government stated that the interim mechanism's function was to collect data on the challenges, bottlenecks and impediments to doing business in Jamaica.

Persons experiencing problems were asked to call in and register their complaints about hurdles and inefficiencies in trying to conduct business with government offices.