MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has given an assurance to potential international investors that the political climate in Jamaica is friendly, and that the Government is determined to ensure that the ease of doing business here will be as speedy as legendary sprinter Usain Bolt.
“What I want to communicate to you today, as potential investors in the region, is that this Government is serious about making Jamaica the place of choice for your investment,” Holness told guests on the first day of the two-day Caribbean Hotel Investment & Operations Summit 2019 at Secrets Wild Orchid in Montego Bay, St James yesterday.
Noting that Jamaica placed 71st out of 190 countries in the Doing Business Report for 2019, Holness said while this “reflected an improvement of our ranking for the previous year by four places” the country still has “a lot of work to do”.
He also noted that the World Economic Forum ranked Jamaica 79th in the global competitiveness report for 2018 out of 140 countries. “It is not a bad ranking for a country of Jamaica’s stage of development, but it is not sufficient to promote the level of investment that we are seeking. We are not satisfied with that,” he said.
“We are presently redoubling our efforts to ensure that, just as how we have conquered the sprints, and Usain Bolt is the fastest man in history in the sprints, Jamaica must become the Usain Bolt of small developing economies when it comes to the ease of doing business and facilitation of business. We must be doing business at the speed of Usain Bolt. So we are actively working to improve those rankings,” Holness said.
He noted that political stability “is becoming high on the agenda of investors as they seek to go into emerging markets”.
“So, clearly investors will want to go where they can get the best returns, but they also want to be certain that their investment is safe and the political risk is minimal. And so in analysing Jamaica, and indeed the region, you can be sure that the political risk here is minimal,” Holness told the audience.
“You will find that the Caribbean region is probably one of the most stable emerging regions, and Jamaica is the most stable politically of all your potential opportunities within the region. Jamaica has a very strong and deep democratic tradition [and] principles of freedom. We are ranked number six in the world for freedom of the press.”
The prime minister said that some people are still baffled that Jamaica was able to undergo an austere reform programme stipulated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) without any form of social unrest.
“We have a very liberal kind of democracy, and it is puzzling to many that Jamaica has been able to execute an austere programme of reform in conjunction with the IMF, and we have been able to do so without any form of social disruption. Indeed, we have been able to build consensus around these very difficult economic reforms and we have been able to execute them seamlessly,” he said.