- The Government is taking urgent and measurable steps to correct and improve the environment in which businesses are conducted.
- The Minister was speaking at the National Competitiveness Council of Jamaica business environment reform roundtable.
- Minister Hylton informed that in 2013, the Government passed 37 pieces of legislation to support an improved business climate.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says the Government is taking urgent and measurable steps to correct and improve the environment in which businesses are conducted.
“I give my personal commitment to ensuring that an enabling environment which is conducive, not only to start up businesses, but one in which businesses can thrive, becomes the hallmark of this country,” Mr. Hylton said.
The Minister was speaking at the National Competitiveness Council of Jamaica business environment reform roundtable, held at the Jamaica Pegasus, in New Kingston, on February 20.
Mr. Hylton informed that in 2013, the Government passed 37 pieces of legislation to support an improved business climate, adding that a number of reforms that will significantly and positively impact the ease with which businesses are started, is currently being implemented.
Among the legislation passed is the Security Interest in Personal Property Act, which allows persons to pledge movable or personal assets as collateral to lending institutions.
The law also facilitates establishment of the Collateral Registry, which will enhance transparency for businesses in accessing credit, using those assets, whilst providing greater certainty and confidence in the financial institutions.
“The secured transaction framework will enable greater access to sources of finance and increased credit to the private sector, especially the micro, small and medium enterprise sector,” Mr. Hylton said.
He informed that credit to the private sector averages 60 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in economies with a modern framework for secured transactions, compared to 30 per cent and 32 per cent in countries without such systems.
The Minister added that in Jamaica, credit to the private sector averaged about 26.8 per cent of GDP between 2008 and 2012, demonstrating how far behind Jamaica is as a country.
“If international trends hold in Jamaica, as a consequence of the development of a modern secured transactions system, we should see a gradual but steady increase in access to credit by the private sector,” Mr. Hylton said.
The Minister noted that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Bill, which is now before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament, will provide for the seamless closing out of entities, where necessary, and the re-organization of viable businesses.
Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) has also introduced a new S03 form, which will allow self employed persons to make all their statutory payments quarterly, rather than monthly.
Mr. Hylton said that Jamaica Customs will shortly be rolling out the pilot for the implementation of a world class administration system that will allow for seamless interface with the business community at all ports of entry.
“As a government, we are encouraged by the initiatives that are on stream for implementation and we are confident that we will start seeing the positive effects of our collective efforts in short order,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hylton noted that preliminary data on global investment trends in 2013 indicate that developing countries are seeing higher levels of investments than developed countries.
He said as a result, the time is right for Jamaica to realize increased investments, not only from foreign sources but also from local sources.
“Complacency at any level cannot be encouraged and as a country we must work faster than our neighbours to implement reforms that will lead to a more attractive business climate and ultimately increased direct investments,” Mr. Hylton added.
For his part, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Mr. Chris Zacca, commended the Government for meeting all its targets under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme for 2013.
He noted that the necessary first step for growth was a tough one, but the country is along the road towards it.
“We need growth, and the IMF themselves know that we need growth. From my perspective we need to get to 7 and 8 per cent of growth every year. So, we have done the first necessary step and we have done a good fiscal consolidation…the government is not borrowing nearly as much as they used to over the last year. So, clearly the spotlight must now focus on the business environment and our competitiveness,” Mr. Zacca said.
Even though the Doing Business Report for 2014 has lauded Jamaica for leading the region in implementing business climate reforms, Jamaica’s overall ranking has moved from 91 to 94.