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Chamber: Downgrade reflects increasing cost of doing business

Paige McCartney The Nassau Guardian

In the wake of The Bahamas slipping down a spot on the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business index, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) yesterday recommended the government streamline the approval process for starting all businesses and move toward a system of registered land among other ways to improve the country’s standing.

The BCCEC’s Chair of the Ease of Doing Business Division Christel Sands-Feaste said the overall downgrade reflects the sentiments expressed by certain BCCEC members that the increasing cost of doing business in The Bahamas must be matched by corresponding increases in productivity and efficiency.

“The most recent decline in The Bahamas’ ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index highlights the need for an ongoing focus on increasing the efficiency of the infrastructure for doing business in The Bahamas; and that the global standards continue to change,” Sands-Feaste said in a statement.

“Whilst the World Bank’s report acknowledges the progress that has been made in certain of the 11 categories by which countries are assessed, including the protection of minority investors (where there was a significant positive improvement of 44 places) and starting a business (where there was a positive movement of 11 places).”

The BCCEC also recommended that every government agency be mandated to identify strategic and measurable goals for improving efficiency in their agency during each budgetary period.

The Bahamas dropped to 119 on Doing Business 2020 index down from the 118 ranking it held a year prior.

This is despite a dedicated National Ease of Doing Business Committee that was created by the Minnis administration in 2017, solely mandated to recommend to government policy changes that would improve the business environment in the country.

Sands-Feaste, who also serves as a member of the national committee, said making it easier to do business in The Bahamas is not an issue that can be assigned to a single committee or stakeholder group.

“It is a national issue that affects — and requires the assistance of – government, businesses, civil society and individuals and must be an integral part of the short, medium and long term development plan for the country,” she said.

“The process of improving The Bahamas’ service delivery model is ongoing and must continue to evolve to meet the expectations of the global marketplace of which we are a part. Put another way, our competitor jurisdictions are continuing to improve, which means that the benchmark by which we are judged both domestically and internationally also continues to rise.”

Sands-Feaste said the chamber remains committed to working with the government and the private sector to continue the formulation and execution of legislative, policy and structural changes to positively transform the processes for doing business in The Bahamas.

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