Finance and Planning Minister, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, says improving the climate for doing business is critical to attracting the levels of investment needed to grow the economy.
The Minister, who was opening the 2012/13 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Thursday (May 24), stated that sustained growth and prosperity will only be achieved by the “creative pursuit of strategies to attract investment and improve competitiveness”.
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Citing the 2012 World Bank ‘Doing Business Report’, which ranked Jamaica 88 out of 183 countries in terms of ease of doing business, Dr. Phillips said the present business environment is “hardly conducive to achieving the levels of growth that are needed to create desperately needed jobs”.
He argued that creating a more facilitatory climate and decreasing transaction costs, are urgent necessities.
Underscoring Government’s commitment to making the improvements, he noted that the recently appointed Cabinet sub-committee, under the chairmanship of Justice Minister, Hon. Mark Golding, is looking at a raft of measures to create a more enabling business environment. These are:
•Establishment of a single development approvals centre to which all subdivision/development applications are submitted, manned by representatives from each of the relevant agencies.
•Reducing the time taken to complete real estate sale transactions, by authorising the National Land Agency (NLA) to assess and collect all applicable charges (transfer tax, stamp duty and registration fees) when the transfer instrument is delivered to the Titles Office for registration.
•Eliminating the stamp duty charged on increases in company share capital, which currently applies to companies formed prior to February 2005, and new companies that have not elected to have unlimited authorized share capital.
•For companies, on receiving their Certificate of Incorporation, to also receive from the Companies Office, their Tax Registration Number (TRN) as well as the number for each of the relevant statutory agencies (National Insurance Scheme, National Housing Trust, etc). These numbers would either be printed on the Certificate of incorporation, or on a separate certificate issued for this purpose.
The same would apply on registering a business name, which will eliminate the time spent and cost incurred trekking around all the agencies and applying to them individually to get these essential numbers. The Companies Office would notify each agency of the incorporation of the company, its numbers, and any related information which may be relevant.
•Introduction of modern insolvency legislation to provide clear rules and procedures for handling corporate and personal insolvencies, including a mechanism in appropriate cases for giving a business a “no adverse action” period in which to attempt to restructure and achieve viability, before the winding up process is embarked upon.
•Introduce the Secured Obligations Act and establish a central, web-based system of filing and searching for security interests in assets other than land. This will increase the certainty and simplicity of taking collateral for financing transactions, and improve the flow of credit in the economy, especially to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME).
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter