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Business Ease: Dpm Wants To Catch Jamaica

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

THE Deputy Prime Minister yesterday said he wants the Bahamas to match Jamaica's 70th 'ease of business' ranking "in the shortest time possible", but admitted: "It won't be overnight."

K P Turnquest told Tribune Business he was under "no illusions" about the extent of the task facing the Government and private sector in hauling the Bahamas up the World Bank's index, acknowledging that regional rivals were still "out-performing" this nation.

Pointing out that the Bahamas remained in the world's "bottom half" for 'business ease', Mr Turnquest said significant improvement was "vitally important" for private sector confidence and this nation's ability to compete for foreign direct investment (FDI) capital.

The Bahamas saw a modest year-over-year improvement in its ranking, moving up two spots from 121st to 119th, and the Deputy Prime Minister pledged there would be further improvement within the next two-three years.

"We're clearly moving in the right direction," Mr Turnquest said of the improvement, "but it also signals there's a lot of work to be done. We're still in the bottom half of that [World Bank] list, and regional competitors are out-performing us.

"This is a competition for investment dollars. Not only are we competing regionally but globally, and we have to be competitive in all aspects, as capital is very mobile. We have to be as good as, or better than, the next guy to attract and keep it."

Asked about specific improvement targets, Mr Turnquest said the Bahamas needed to catch up, and match, the rankings achieved by Caribbean 'ease of doing business' leaders - specifically Jamaica.

"I expect to be in competition with Jamaica at 70," the Deputy Prime Minister told Tribune Business. "We have to look at our use of technology, see how we can better deploy our resources and make the processes more efficient.

"We're not in this business by ourselves. We have to benchmark ourselves and make sure we're in the game, competitive and attractive to foreign direct investment and local investment.

"I have personally challenged my Ministry of look at the top-ranked country [New Zealand] and benchmark ourselves against them, seeing what the impediments are to achieving the same level of efficiency, whether it's internal processes or legislative amendments to be made, and determine the path to getting there in the shortest time period," Mr Turnquest continued.

"Jamaica has made some significant advancements in investing in technology. We have no illusions that improvement is going to be overnight, but we have the internal will to get there as quickly as possible."

The Bahamas' 119th ranking in the World Bank's index, which measures the efficiency of a country's regulatory and business processes, places it behind economic 'powerhouses' such as Papua New Guinea and Malawi. It even lies behind the 114th-placed West Bank and Gaza strip, which have had to contend with decades of Israeli blockades, plus political and economic turbulence.

Among the Latin American and Caribbean region, the Bahamas ranks 20th out of 32 nations. Jamaica is the Caribbean leader in 70th position, followed by St Lucia at 91st, hurricane-ravaged Dominica at 98th, and the Dominican Republic at 99th.

The Bahamas is also behind Trinidad & Tobago and Antigua & Barbuda, although it is ahead of Barbados. While this nation has "stopped the bleeding" by ending successive years of decline in the World Bank's index, its modest improvement shows that fundamental reform is pivotal to reigniting economic growth.

The World Bank's annual 'ease of doing business' index is used as a key indicator by international investors to guide them in their decision-making, as it enables them to gauge how easy it is to conduct commerce in a particular nation.

They will be especially wary of allocating capital to projects in low-ranked nations, or those that have suffered consecutive falls such as the Bahamas, as this gives them the impression that their investments will be unsafe, and caught up in too much bureaucracy and red tape.

The Minnis administration has placed particular emphasis on improving the 'ease of doing' business, both in perception and reality, given that smooth regulatory processes are especially important to a Bahamian economy positioned as an international financial and business centre (IFC).

It has appointed a national 'ease of doing business' committee, co-chaired by Lynn Holowesko and Bryan Glinton, to develop recommendations and a strategy for alleviating bureaucratic bottlenecks and private sector frustration.

Mr Turnquest yesterday placed great faith in the committee's work, revealing that the Government was already considering "the first preliminary reports" coming from it on ways to improve the Bahamas' 'ease of doing business'.

"The ease of starting and continuing in business, paying taxes and regulatory oversight are important aspects that have to be addressed," he said. "All of these we are in the process of reviewing to make some significant improvements in processes. Hopefully over the next two to three years we will see some improvements in this regard."

The Bahamas' highest individual category ranking in the World Bank index was for the 'ease of paying taxes', where it rated 55th. The only other area where it ranked in the world's top third was on resolving insolvency (64th), and it made the 'top 100' on just two other indicators - obtaining construction permits, where it ranked 86th, and in enforcing contracts where it placed 74th.

The Bahamas still found itself in just 108th spot out of 190 on 'starting a business'. It also remained near-bottom on registering property (167th), due to the time taken on title searches and lodging/recording a conveyance at the Registry of Records.

The Bahamas was also ranked 142nd on the 'ease of getting credit'; 117th for the 'ease of getting electricity'; 129th on minority investor protection; and 157th for 'trading across borders'.

Comments

BahamasForBahamians 1 year, 5 months ago

PSA NEIL HARTNELL

Noone listens to the DPM anymore.

He's become the Patrick Star (spongebob co-star) of the nation and is generally associated with talking before he knows the facts and lying on the opposition for his personal gain.

YOU GUYS CAN HIDE THE FRONT PAGE ARTICLE FROM YOUR WEBSITE AS MUCH AS YOU WANT - WE KNOW HE FLIP FLOPPED THE $42 MILLION FROM BAHAMAS AIR.

SAME WITH THE VAT MONEY.

He's probably gonna flip flop this - next week we expect to here Jamaica is no longer a target for ease of doing business.

WE DONT LISTEN TO HIM ANYMORE. FIND SOMEONE REPUTABLE TO SPEAK WITH AND REPORT ON.

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TalRussell 1 year, 5 months ago

Comrades! The Bahamaland ranks way down in the junk pile alongside Ghana.Uganda, Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
{ Why bother making KP into reality? }.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

Jamaica has sunken to its lowest low as a result of the IMF reforms over the past 25 years....... do we want to go there to compete with the "IMF devaluation babies"?????????? ...... That is a choice that the Minnis government must consider during this 5-year term.

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jamaicaproud 1 year, 5 months ago

Why doesn't he use the Number 10 or 1 country. Why always Jamaica? Ok a tip, for those who like to insult Jamaica, One cannot move up in an investment index, if they are paranoid about foreigners. With investment dollars come with outsiders, something Bahamanians detest.

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Socrates 1 year, 5 months ago

look at our Bahamas .. used to look down on our caribbean neighbours, now using them as a benchmark to measure progress.. my how the mighty have fallen..

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Dawes 1 year, 5 months ago

Jamaica did sink to lows a while ago, however they have turned themselves around and are starting to see good results. Our hope must be that we can do the same, however chances are we won't as we would rather sit and complain about everyone else causing us to have it hard, rather then accept that we do it to ourselves.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

We have it hard because we have been so gullible about accepting foreigners to do for us what we can easily do for ourselves ....... and the foreigners laugh at us behind our backs ........ especially the West Indians, Canadians and the Chinese. The PowerSecure, Bahamar and BTC takeovers were classic examples.

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jamaicaproud 1 year, 5 months ago

Jamaicans love Bahamians, stop lying.

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BONEFISH 1 year, 5 months ago

Despite their crime and economic challenges, Jamaica has surpassed the Bahamas in a number of areas. While Bahamians stood still,they have moved ahead. Ask them about their 2 million stopover visitors per year, while the Bahamas is stuck at 1.4 million.Ask them how they are building and expanding their room inventory,while hotels are closed in this country for thirteen years in GB, the Royal Oasis, Ask them how reduce their electricity rate from 40 cent to 20 cent per kilowatt hour. I really want to know that.Let them show you their solar and wind farms

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MonkeeDoo 1 year, 5 months ago

Government agencies and policies have been purpose built for corruption. No need discussing that. You need a certificate to clear your goods but you can't qualify, some hungry civil servant will oblige you for a smaller sum. Need a work permit but can't get the approval some immigration officer can get you one if you pay under the table. Everything can be bought in the Bahamas for the right price. Start with that and see where we get.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

For decades before the 1980's the Bahamas was way out in front of Jamaica in so many areas, including education system, utility companies, tourism, low crime, overall standard of living and quality of life, etc. etc. But a strange thing happened to us in the early 1980's.....we started to lose ground against Jamaica in all of these areas. My oh my how the mighty have fallen and continue to fall!

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

That is not true .......... Jamaica was #1 in the 1950s and 1960s when we were a fishing village ....... Then they went down under Manley socialism after the 1970s ...... and we got a fake boost from narco-dollars in the 1970s and 1980s ......... and the rest is history .......... But Jamaica has far more potential for growth than us presently ........ We are NOW where Jamaica was in the 1980s.

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ashley14 1 year, 5 months ago

Tourism in Jamaica is booming. They do have some very prosperous industry. Their coffee is awesome, and they do a good job with Rum. The Blue Mountain Coffee sells for 36.00 lb and they get it. It's awesome. Also the Jamaican people act very glad to see the tourists. They don't intimidate the tourist by yelling at them or being pushy. Sorry it doesn't bother me, but others I can't say so much. I don't know about crime. We didn't have or see any problems. Lot's of Resorts offering great deals and a lot of all inclusive choices. Tourist like to know they aren't going to charged ridiculous prices for average products.

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