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Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says a major objective for the administration over the next four years is to significantly improve Jamaica’s competitiveness and climate for investments.

“This administration has put, as its task…that by the time this term of office should be over, Jamaica should be in the top 50 in the ‘Doing Business Report,’” he stated.

Minister Hylton, who was addressing the 9th Entrepreneurial Reflection series, held on November 14 at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Papine campus, argued that if these issues are not addressed,the country will not be able to survive in the globalised environment.  

“I have focused on this area significantly, because I do believe that unless you are able to arrest the problem and to make significant progress, it’s going to continue to undermine the growth of the economy,” he stated.

Jamaica is ranked 107 out of 142 countries surveyed on the Global Competitiveness Index 2011-2012. In 2006, the country was rated about 43 out of over 140 countries, which means the country has since fallen a number of places on the index. Additionally, Jamaica has dipped two spots to be ranked 90 out of 185 countries in the annual ‘Doing Business Report’ 2012-2013, which was released in October.

Mr. Hylton assured that the objective to return Jamaica’s standing to the top 50 is achievable, but will require hard work. “I am confident that we will address this problem; I think we can do it. It requires a lot of work, detailed work… but it can be done,” he stressed.

The Minister said it was in the bid to improve the business climate that he revived the National Competitiveness Council, which was originally established in 2010.

“The Council has, as one of its major tasks, looking at the ‘Doing Business Report’ and the (Global) Competitiveness Index, isolating the particular areas of concern and coming up with practical strategies and approach,” he informed.

He noted that since the revival of the Council, it has been able to isolate a number of issues and have begun to address them.

The Minister also informed that the Government continues to work towards the implementation of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), and Entrepreneurship Policy, which is to be tabled in Parliament in short order.  “We’ve agreed that the next step is a Green Paper to continue the discussion,” he stated. 

The MSME policywill seek to transform Jamaica’s business environment by addressing the legal, regulatory and administrative barriers to starting a small business, accessing finance, paying taxes and trading across borders. It will also focus on the needs of the youth and the creative industries.

The four broad areas to be addressed under the policy are: creating an enabling environment for doing business; increasing financing to the sector; enhancing business and development support; and inculcating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in MSMEs.

The Entrepreneurial Reflection series was organised by UTech and the Bank of Nova Scotia and was held under the theme: ‘The Future of Entrepreneurship in Jamaica: A Bipartisan Discussion with special focus on the MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy’.