Jamaica Needs Outside Help To Boost Business – Earl Jarrett
International assistance can help Jamaica slash the bureaucracy facing businesses and boost financing to the sector, says Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS).
The country falls well below the benchmarks established by global leaders such as Singapore in terms of the ease of doing business, Mr. Jarrett said. Singapore led the ‘Doing Business 2010’ ranking of the ease of doing business in 183 countries, measuring specific issues such as tax collection, trading across borders and enforcing contracts.
“It is important that we move upwards to match places like Singapore,” he said. Jamaica is now ranked at number 75 and it had several areas of particular concern to address.
In the category of ease of paying taxes, Jamaica ranked 174, “And then we wonder why people don’t pay taxes,” Mr. Jarrett said. He was speaking at the Small Business Association of Jamaica’s (SBAJ) first Brunch ‘N Talk meeting at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston on March 28.
“We need to look carefully at the laws of Jamaica to make sure that businesses are able to open quickly and close quickly,” he stated. “Where it is easy for large operations to do business, it will be even easier for small operations.”
In trading across borders outside Jamaica, the country had a ranking of 104, he said. In enforcing contracts, it has a ranking of 128.
“There is a lot of work to be done and this is where the support of the multilaterals agencies could help,” Mr. Jarrett said. The ‘Doing Business 2010’ report is published by International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.
Rwanda was the top global reformer in the IFC report, ranking 67, up from its previous rank of 143 the year before. By contrast, Jamaica’s ranking was down from the previous level of 67 in the 2009 IFC survey.
Rwanda was able to achieve the massive improvement with technical support from the World Bank. The institution worked with Rwanda’s public and private sectors starting in 2007, offering expertise and focusing support for its business reform programme.
“We are seeing that there is a difficulty in getting credit where Jamaica ranks 87 out of the 183 countries,” Mr. Jarrett also told the SBAJ meeting. He pointed out that the Government had indicated its commitment to funding and development of the small and medium size business sector.
“We trust that the government as well as its international partners, multilateral and international agencies will open their doors to enable this sector to grow,” The JNBS General Manager said.