Following the Prime Minister’s mandate to make ease of doing business a top priority for the Government, the Ministry of Finance is spearheading an inter-agency working group to make business faster, cheaper and better in The Bahamas.
The incremental move in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking is a welcomed sign that the Government’s initiatives are reaping benefits. However, the target for the inter-agency working group is to see at least a 15 per cent increase over the next few years, not just a 1 per cent increase in the rankings.
The assessment undertaken by the World Bank is conducted every year based on ten focus areas that affect the life of a business. The specific indices that are tracked and scored by the World Bank include the following: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, having an effective credit rating and tracking system, protecting minority investors, paying taxes easily, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
“Ease of doing business is a serious issue that has support and attention at the highest levels of government. At the Ministry of Finance, we spearhead the inter-agency working group that is focused on driving change across government based on the focus areas assessed by the World Banks’ Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking,” said K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
The group consists of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Inland Revenue, the Customs Department, the Department of Public Works, the Central Bank of the Bahamas, the Registrar General’s Office and the Securities Commission.
“The ultimate test is whether people feel the impact of the changes on the things that matter most to them, but we are also using the global ranking as a benchmark because it uses objective and quantifiable measures of progress and it assesses our performance against 190 economies across the world. Internally, our working group is employing a data-driven approach to tracking progress and decision making, modeling this best management practice for government,” said Minister Turnquest.
“We started this project several months ago. And as the New Year unfolds, we will be rolling out a number of significant initiatives that will have a positive impact on the daily lives of businesses and help us to continue our climb on the global ranking list,” said Minister Turnquest.
Bahamian businesses have to interact with the Government on a daily basis to trade goods across the border, to pay taxes, to apply for various approvals, and a wide range of transactions. The Ease of Doing Initiative of the Government is not just focused on the elements scored by the World Bank. It is also paying necessary attention on making all business and customer interactions with government easier, faster and better.
“We plan to alleviate frustration around the lengthy time it takes to start a new business; the time it takes to get a construction permit; the hoops you have to jump through to access credit, among other priority areas. There are certain structural changes that have to take place to advance these efforts fully, but there are also short-term steps we can and will take early in the New Year to relieve some of these pain points,” said Minister Turnquest.
“Simple changes such as improving the flow of communication between government service providers and the public; or digitizing processes such as applying for a revenue exemption or applying for a construction permit,” Minister Turnquest continued.
The public will hear more about the Government’s plans and will be invited to provide feedback on the various initiatives.