Cooper calls for ease of doing business czar

Cooper calls for ease of doing business czar
Chester Cooper

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Opposition deputy leader Chester Cooper yesterday called for the appointment of an ease of doing business czar and ‘innovative funding’ of $50 million a year to jump start economic growth.

Cooper, the Exuma and Ragged Island MP, accused the Minnis administration of merely ‘talking a good game’ on ease of doing business reform.

“I note that The Bahamas has dropped on the World Bank’s annual ease of doing business index. While the drop is not precipitous, it is noteworthy given the pace at which other countries in the region are implementing reforms and climbing the index. In the global marketplace, The Bahamas must stand out as being open for business and ready to work with local and international partners.

“The Minnis administration talks a good game on business reform, but independent assessments tell the true tale. It has become apparent that the time for talk alone has passed. Action should be the order of the day. To that effect, the government should immediately appoint an ease of doing business czar whose sole focus is to drill down into the categories where we slid or where there is an obvious need to improve, and formulate policies and legislation to address it which can be implemented in the next six to nine months,” said Cooper.

Cooper noted that the National Development Plan outlines ease of doing business and a host of other reforms for the business environment.

“It is high time we put the politics aside and work to put the NDP into action. The government should focus on business reforms with a private sector mindset,” he said. “Where obstacles to doing business exist, they should be altogether removed; not navigated around so as not to offend an archaic public sector mode of operation. To that end, a proper committee of broad expertise from the private sector should be appointed to help the ease of doing business czar.

“Stacking the committee with special interests will only serve to make doing business in the sectors they control easier. Everyone should be able to do business with more ease, not just the select few.”

Th Minnis administration had established a national ease of doing business committee headed by Lynn Holowesko to make recommendations on improving the ease of doing business in the country.

The Bahamas has seen a slight decline in its position on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, with the nation dropping one spot to the 119th position. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranks 190 countries against each other based on how the regulatory environment is conducive to business operation and stronger protections of property rights.

Economies with a high rank (1 to 20) have simpler and more friendly regulations for businesses.The Bahamas is now ranked 119th out of 190 countries on the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Index with a Doing Business Score of 59. 9. The Bahamas drops back to a ranking it received in the World Bank’s 2018 report.

“One glaring area where we slid is in access to capital. While the PLP fully supports the Small Business Development Center, we maintain that it is seriously underfunded. The current funding of $5 million has proven to be inadequate.I suggest innovative funding of $50 million a year to jump start economic growth, particularly in the aftermath of set backs of Hurricane Dorian,” said Mr Cooper.