Several regulatory reforms adopted in the past year have helped improve the business climate in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic, according to the World Bank’s 2015 “ease of doing business” rankings.
But it is Colombia — which now makes transferring property easier — that finished on top in the region. Its economy ranked 34th out of 189 that the Bank evaluated worldwide for its standings, which were released Tuesday.
Overall, the region continues to show improvements due to new business reforms. Thirty-two economies in the region have passed at least one regulatory reform in the past year.
Venezuela continued its trend as the worst place to do business in the region, ranking at 182. Right behind it is Haiti — which has adopted the slogan that it’s “open for business.” However, ongoing political gridlock, delayed elections and a dysfunctional parliament have made it difficult for the country to implement significant business reforms, such as recognizing some types of electronic communication. The country ranked No. 180, moving up one place from the previous year.
One economy that’s making a turnaround is Jamaica. In the past year, the country has passed three reforms, helping it move up 27 places in the rankings to No. 58, the highest-ranked Caribbean country.
Among the economic reforms Jamaica adopted: reducing the cost of getting electricity, and expanding the range of assets that can be considered collateral to improve access to credit. One change that the Bank signaled as worrisome in the country, however, is an increased tax burden for companies.
Even still, Finance Minister Peter Phillips said he’s encouraged by “Jamaica’s new global competitiveness standing, which highlights that we are open for business.”
“It is clear evidence that the present positive movement in our competitiveness is associated with our sustained program of comprehensive economic reforms, which we started approximately two years ago,” he said.
In 2012, Jamaica was faced with a sinking economy and was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund for help. Earlier this year, the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors agreed to provide $510 million in loans over the next four years to bring badly needed reforms to boost business and investor confidence.
While Jamaica recorded the biggest improvement in the ease of doing business, Trinidad and Tobago is closer to achieving the global best practices standard in business regulation, according to the Bank, which this year revised its grading. The ranking is now based on the distance to frontier score, which shows how close each economy is to the global best practices standard.
A higher score indicates a more efficient business environment and stronger legal institutions, said Christelle Chapoy, a Bank spokeswoman.
Employers in oil-rich Trinidad, for instance, can now register their businesses online. That and other reforms, like improving access to credit, helped Trinidad move from No. 91 to No. 79, and bring it closer to the global best practices standard.
The Dominican Republic’s ranking remained unchanged at No. 84, but the country did enact a new law regulating protection of personal data and the operation of credit reporting bureaus.
The country that has passed the most reforms since 2005 to help entrepreneurs is Colombia. In addition to making it easier to transfer property, leaders have broadened the range of assets that persons can use as collateral, helping Colombia become the region’s best place to do business.