The Jamaica Promotions Corporations (JAMPRO) is calling Jamaica’s four-point move from 75 to 71 out of 190 countries, in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report (DBR), a significant stride in the Government of Jamaica’s thrust to getting into the DBR Top 10 ranked countries.
The report, which ranks Jamaica as first in the ease of Doing Business in the Caribbean, said the island’s most significant improvement was made under the Registering Property indicator where the cost of transferring property moved from 9.8% to 2.8%.
This improvement was a result of the Ministry of Finance and Public Service’s announcement earlier this year that saw transfer tax moving from 5% to 2%, and stamp duty on land transfers moving from 4% of the property’s value to a flat fee of J$2,000. At the time, the Minister – Dr. the Hon Nigel Clarke – noted that the move was a deliberate step to spur economic activity and allow for greater ease in doing business transactions and collateralising business loans.
In response to the report, Minister Clarke stated, “I am happy to see that the policy reform that I announced in my budget presentation this year, where we abolished certain distortionary taxes and dramatically reduced transaction taxes has created such a quantum leap in the Registering Property indicator, which in turn has had a profound impact on Jamaica’s performance in the Doing Business Index.”
In addition to Registering Property, the report’s Enforcing Contracts indicator also improved slightly, moving from a rank of 127 to 119, while the country’s competitiveness in Protecting Minority Investors moved significantly from 89 to 61. Jamaica has also jumped ahead of regional competitor Costa Rica to rank fourth in the Latin American and Caribbean region. On the other hand, the country continues to lag in areas such as Getting Electricity at 120, Paying Taxes at 124, and Trading across Borders at 136.
In order to continue the strides that have been made in the country’s ranking, JAMPRO President Diane Edwards noted that some very impactful reforms are being considered by Government to continue the move towards an easier business environment. This includes an overhaul of the Companies Act and the creation of guidelines to protect shareholders in companies across the country, as well as, the long-awaited operationalisation of the Government Electrical Regulator to replace the Government Electrical Inspectorate, the creation of a National Spatial Plan, the implementation of the Jamaica Single Window for Trade (JSWIFT) and the online availability of development applications review across all Municipal Corporations.
Reacting to the news of the DBR ranking improvement, Chairman of JAMPRO, Senator Don Wehby, stated, “If Jamaica is to experience significant economic growth, we must have a business environment that welcomes investment from local and international businesspeople, as well as, facilitates the growth and success of export enterprises. The mindset of Government entities must always be to roll-in the red-tape and roll-out the red-carpet”, stated
As Government’s trade and investment promotion agency, JAMPRO manages the National Competitiveness Council and helps to drive the implementation of the Business Environment Reform Agenda in collaboration with various implementing agencies and technical working groups across Government.