JIS News

Importers and exporters of food, plants, animals and related products, may soon find it easier to conduct business, as Government is working on a project to streamline and simplify the issuance of permits and the inspection process for trade in these products.
Shirley Ann Eaton, Project Manager for the Regulations, Legislation and Process Improvement Project (Regs & Legs) in the office of the Minister of Development, tells JIS News, that a process flow analysis has been commissioned, to determine all the steps that these importers and exporters have to go through to conduct trade. The aim, she says, is to cut down red tape and facilitate a friendlier business climate.
Miss Eaton notes that at present, the process of procuring permits and getting permit amendments for clearing these goods, involves persons having to seek the go-ahead from several government agencies, which slows down the trade process.
She points out that faster clearance of plants and animals was critical because these items were perishable and “any processes pertaining to those items should be as efficient as possible”.
Meanwhile, Project Manager for the National Quality Infrastructure Project (NQIP) Marguerite Domville, confirms that the Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology, was looking to establish a national food agency, that would consolidate the work of all these government departments, bringing the various issues relating to the food chain under one umbrella.
The intent is to eventually have one agency handling all matters pertaining to the import and export of food, animal and plant items.
Mrs. Domville further explains that, “we realised that there are just too many departments of government dealing with quality to be successful. The people who want to export have a problem, they have too many departments to deal with and the people who want to send things to Jamaica have a problem, so trade is really hampered and because there are so many departments, you have gaps and overlaps, which are expensive. It has recommended by our consultants that we need to consider one agency, because this is the way the rest of the world is going”.
She says the Swedish aided project is still a concept at this point, because it will be a marathon task to bring all of the 16 departments of government that are involved in the process together. The NIQP is now working on a business plan in collaboration with the Agricultural Services Support Project (ASSP), “so that we can get on paper what it will look like and get an idea of how much it will cost us”. The plan, which Mrs. Domville says should be completed by year-end, is to be presented to Parliament.
But, Mrs. Eaton says that until such a body was established, “we still need to try and find some way of making the system more efficient and easier for importers and exporters, hence the process flow analysis to see if we can reduce or eliminate some steps. Maybe we can amalgamate or consolidate certain areas that are now separate and distinct”.
She informs that the Ministries that are involved, namely Health, Agriculture and Industry and Commerce, are aware of the necessity to streamline the issuance and clearance procedures and they have, over the years, done a substantial amount of work in this regard.
One recent measure, Miss Eaton indicates, is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), where the parties agreed that one would carry out the function of another where there is duplication. “We are hoping that we can get this MOU assigned and implemented in a short while,” she tells JIS News.

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