By October 2016, the World Bank and International Financial Corporation will publish their 14th report on the Ease of Doing Business Index. The present government will have little opportunity to influence the outcome of that report, because the period that will be under review ends next month.
Nevertheless, it is important that the thrust to improve Jamaica’s performance does not wane. Referring to Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency in “Jamaica Takes the Leap in Doing Business Indicators: 5 Lessons for the Wider Caribbean”, Navita Anganu-Ramroop lamented that:
“Not all countries are bothered by rankings, and therefore not all countries make a concerted effort to change and attempt to improve same, failing to realize that the competitiveness of nations are equally important and necessary for the competitiveness of firms operating within the country”.
Doing Business 2015 also states that Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is one of the regions “with the smallest share of economies implementing regulatory reforms...”. In fact, Jamaica and The Bahamas were the only Caribbean nations that actually improved their global ranking in that report.
The Bahamas moved from 108th to 106th, while Jamaica moved from 71st to 64th out of 189 global economies. In the Gleaner publication dated October 28, 2015, the article “Jamaica Cited for Doing Reforms in Doing Business Report” stated that:
“Jamaica... has been cited by the World Bank, alongside Costa Rica and Mexico, as executing the most reforms in the region in the last five years”, and “also found that Jamaica is among the global top 10 improvers ‘as it implemented a regional high of four reforms’ ”.
Mexico ranked 38th , the highest ranking economy in LAC. Costa Rica is 5th and Jamaica 6th . Even though Jamaica moved up 7 places globally, it only managed to hold on to its 6th position, because Costa Rica moved from 79th to 58th globally, up 21 places, thus preventing Jamaica from advancing regionally.
With the widening of the Panama Canal and construction of a second canal in Nicaragua, a significant increase in trade and investment can be expected in the Caribbean Basin. So, improving competitiveness of local firms is imperative and this through greater effort than before.
It is also important to realize that 11 out of the 12 highest ranked nations within LAC are located in the Caribbean Basin. Jamaica cannot afford to slack up on its previous effort. It should be of no comfort that greater trade is expected in the Greater Caribbean if we are ill prepared to benefit from it.