State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes- Abrahams, has emphasised the importance of minimising bureaucracy and creating a favourable business environment for investors, in order to propel the economy forward.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams explained that a favourable business environment is critical, not only for attracting foreign direct investments, “but also essential for the development and sustainability of domestic business, and in particular small and medium enterprises, which will be the engine to turn Jamaica around, and put the country on the right footing."
The State Minister was speaking at a Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan sector planning workshop on enabling the business environment (Towards The Preparation Of The New Medium Term Socio-Economic Policy Framework 2012-2015), hosted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in collaboration with the Ministry and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), at the PIOJ’s Oxford Road offices in Kingston, on June 29.
She added that an enabling business environment serves as the framework that enables foreign and domestic firms, as well as individuals, to conduct business without unreasonable or unnecessary impediments. “There are far too many of those still impeding business in Jamaica,” she noted.
The State Minister noted that investors, in order to be competitive, seek to avoid unnecessary costs, delays and risks. “A poor investment climate characterised by high levels of crime, taxes, bureaucracy, and corruption, increases the cost of investment and causes investors to go elsewhere, which we do not want,” she said.
The State Minister pointed out that Vision 2030 embodies the fact that a competitive and enabling business environment is what supports economic growth and development.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling the country to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said key elements of an enabling business environment include: facilitating a policy, regulatory and institutional framework for business development; increasing access to capital; using trade and foreign relations to create an enabling external environment for economic growth; strengthening investment promotion and trade facilitation; developing an efficient labour market; improving the labour environment to enhance labour productivity and worker satisfaction; and developing the capabilities of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
Critical to Jamaica’s success in the creation of a more enabling environment for business are the issues identified in the World Bank’s Doing Business reports for 2012, which showed that Jamaica had slipped to a ranking of 88 compared to 85 in 2011. “Indeed, in 2008, we were 63rd in the ease of doing business ranking. That is now occupied by Ghana, which in 2008 was ranked at 87,” she said.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said that although there has been an improvement in the registration of property and trading across borders, it is clear that a lot more must be done to improve the business climate.
Others speakers included: Deputy Director General of the PIOJ, Everton McFarlane; Manager, Special Projects, National Competitiveness Council, Marjorie Straw; and Programme Director, Vision 2030 Jamaica, Michael Lumsdem.
The workshop aimed to: identify and agree on priority issues affecting the business environment in Jamaica; and identify actions to be taken to address the priority issues for the business environment over the next three years.