Caribbean countries improve environment for doing business


Several Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas and Jamaica, have recorded improvements in absolute terms on the ease of doing business, indicating that they are getting closer to global best practices in business regulations, according to a new report released by the World Bank on Wednesday.

The Washington-based financial institution which released its “Doing Business 2019: Training for Reform,” report, said for several Caribbean countries including The Bahamas, which is ranked at 118, the Dominican Republic, 102 and Jamaica, which is placed at 75, there have been improvements in the ease of doing business.

“However, these are not translated into improvements in ranking due to the pace of reforms in the other economies,” it said, adding “this year, The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and Grenada all improved access to credit information through the introduction of regulations and by improving the functioning of their credit bureaus”.

The Dominican Republic strengthened protection of minority investors by increasing the independence of boards of directors.

Jamaica features in the top 20 countries in the Getting Credit Indicator for their comprehensive credit reporting systems and ranks among the best globally in the area of starting a business, with a rank of six, as it takes only two procedures and three days for an entrepreneur to start up and formally operate a business

The World Bank said economies in Latin America and the Caribbean carried out 25 reforms during the past year to improve the ease of doing business for domestic small and medium enterprises, adding that the reforms were carried out in 18 of the region’s 32 economies.

In the Caribbean, the Bahamas improved access to credit by introducing regulations governing the licensing, functioning, and regulation of credit bureaus in the country. Paying Taxes was also made easier in the Bahamas with an online system for filing and paying value added tax.

Of the 25 reforms carried out in the region during the past year, seven were in the area of Getting Credit. Besides Brazil and the Bahamas, among the other economies that improved credit information systems were Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Haiti, and Jamaica.

“It is encouraging to see the steady implementation of reforms in Latin America and the Caribbean, although many economies could benefit from an acceleration in the pace of the reform agenda,” said Santiago Croci Downes, Programme Manager of the Doing Business Unit.

“Continued and sustained progress is key to improving the domestic business climate and enabling private enterprise.”

The region’s economies perform best in the areas of Getting Electricity and Getting Credit. Obtaining an electricity connection in the region takes on average only 66 days, which is faster than 77-day average in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) high-income economies.

However, the cost to connect to the electricity grid in the region remains high, with an average of 946 percent of the income per capita, compared to 64 percent income per capita in OECD economies

The World Bank said that the biggest challenges for the region are in the areas of Paying Taxes, Registering Property and Protecting Minority Investors.

“For example, 27 payments are required on average for a medium sized company in the region to comply with tax obligations, compared to 11 procedures among OECD high-income economies.

“Since Doing Business began in 2003, Starting a Business has seen the most reforms in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“As a result, the average time to start a business in the region has been halved to 32 days, from 78 days in 2003, and the cost has been significantly reduced to 49 percent of income per capita, from 75 percent income per capita in 2003.”

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