Jamaica moving too slowly with public sector reform

KINGSTON — Local business interests, as well as the oversight body set up to ensure the smooth running of the four-year extended fund facility with the International Monetary Fund, are taking issue with the pace at which the government is moving to implement the long-awaited reform of the public sector.

The Doing Business Reform Agenda has also come up for scrutiny, and there are suggestions that the units in charge of driving the implementation processes need to be held to strict timelines if the country is to succeed in its dealings with the IMF.

“We need to speed things up. Anytime you have objectives, you should be held to a timeline,” Brian Pengelley, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), said yesterday in expressing his disgust.

Pengelley’s comments came a day after the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), through its communiqu√ published in The Gleaner, called for a speeding up of the implementation processes.

The oversight body said while it appreciates the efforts being made, it “felt that given the depth of Jamaica’s economic challenges, much more urgency and bold action needed to be taken in respect of both”.

The EPOC recommended that both project teams seek to identify a small number of important objectives that could be achieved in the next few months, especially those that are able to have a significant positive impact on businesses in Jamaica and the public at large.

Pengelley agreed with the recommendations and stated that “in these sorts of things, you try to look for any of the low-hanging fruits – some things that you can get done and get done quickly. I am not close enough to know what those things are, but certainly, that is something we would encourage them to do”.

“It’s all a critical component of us meeting the conditions of the IMF and the private sector. We are being asked to give and, therefore, we are looking for the Government to accelerate that part of the programme,” the JMA president added.

Professor Rosalea Hamilton, immediate past president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica, said the association was anxious to see things speed up, especially in light of the fact that Jamaica continues to experience an unfavourable ranking in the annual Doing Business report.

“Since 2006, the measure of how badly we are doing (has got worse). We are now 90 in the world for doing business. That environment for doing business is getting worse, and a lot of the issues turn to bureaucracy,” Hamilton said. (Gleaner)

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