Gov’t to Speed up Processing of SEZ Applications

Photo: Mark Bell Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz (right), is in discussion with General Manager, Caribbean Region, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), Jason Nestor. Occasion was a Blockchain Design Workshop put on by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) at the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority in Kingston on Wednesday (April 11).

Story Highlights

  • The Government is targeting a reduction in the timeline for processing Special Economic Zone (SEZ) applications to 60 days by 2019, with further reductions in subsequent years.
  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, made the disclosure at a Blockchain Design Workshop organised by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), at the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) in Kingston on Wednesday (April 11).
  • Minister Vaz said that aggressive goals have also been set for other types of applications, such as those with pre-approvals.

The Government is targeting a reduction in the timeline for processing Special Economic Zone (SEZ) applications to 60 days by 2019, with further reductions in subsequent years.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, made the disclosure at a Blockchain Design Workshop organised by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), at the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) in Kingston on Wednesday (April 11).

He said the JSEZA, the agency mandated to manage and regulate SEZs, is undertaking work to achieve the target.

The current timeline (as specified in the JSEZA Act) for the processing of applications without pre-approvals is 120 days.

Minister Vaz said that aggressive goals have also been set for other types of applications, such as those with pre-approvals.

SEZs are specially delineated locations that provide targeted incentives and services to encourage investments in Jamaica’s logistics-based industries.

Minister Vaz noted that the improvement in the turnaround time for applications is expected to result in easier and faster company registration and growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
Other benefits include attracting more companies to the SEZs, with the attendant implications for job creation; growth in exports as a result of production output; improved country recognition; and improvement in Jamaica’s international ranking for doing business, as well as growth in gross domestic product (GDP).

One of the methods the JSEZA is seeking to employ to reduce turnaround time for applications is the blockchain model, which is regarded as a leading business innovation platform.

The Minister pointed out that enterprise blockchain technologies are perfectly positioned to address many of the challenges currently faced by the JSEZA in its endeavour to reduce the SEZ application cycle time.

“A fundamental characteristic of a blockchain-relevant business is that a business network exists in which there is a need for organisations to share information, contribute to the evolution of that data, and collaborate efficiently and effectively,” he noted.

A team from the United States (US)-based multinational technology company, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), will be working with the JSEZA over the next two days of the workshop to look at how the blockchain model can be employed in Jamaica.

General Manager, Caribbean Region, IBM, Jason Nestor, said the company is looking forward to working with the JSEZA agency in introducing the model, which is the first time this is being done in the Caribbean.

“At the end of the two days, we want to create a minimum viable product that you can then deploy to being a successful Jamaican Government, and it’s something that can benefit the whole country as well, and I think it will really put Jamaica in the forefront from a technology point of view,” he said.

For Chief Executive Officer, JSEZA, Dr. Eric Deans, the employment of this model with greatly assist the Government in advancing the growth agenda.

“We are going to be using this platform to put Jamaica ahead and achieve the growth targets that the Government has set for itself,” he said.

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