Tue | Jul 16, 2019

Abolish agriculture regulatory authorities

Published:Friday | June 14, 2019 | 12:17 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Prudent administrations are expected to facilitate entrepreneurship by removing barriers to business development. Therefore, most politicians are aware that the private sector should be the engine of growth, but they have failed to convey this message to bureaucrats.

In the public sector, the thinking is that employees create value by ensuring compliance with government regulations. However, this position is quite erroneous. Many procedures instituted by governments throughout the world only serve to enrich the coffers of public agencies. Such policies are often implemented under the guise of preventing corrupt practices. But the reality is that regulations usually impose deadweight losses, because entrepreneurs waste valuable time evading onerous guidelines, when they could be pursuing income generating activities.

Likewise, local farmers have been noting that the requirements imposed by the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA) are impeding growth in the agricultural sector. For example, a farmer intending to export cocoa may incur fees in excess of $350,000. Policymakers will view income generated from fees favourably, but, in actuality, the dictates of JACRA are imposing a cost on the economy.

Such practices indicate that politicians and bureaucrats are yet to understand that the State exists to facilitate individual achievement. When individuals are prosperous, they will have more money to invest and pay taxes. Furthermore, wealthy people are less dependent on government services.

The mandates of JACRA imply that our leaders do not understand how a market economy functions. Hence, there is still the belief that for the Government to collect sufficient revenue, private entrepreneurs must be burdened with regulations.

If adherence to international regulations for agricultural produce is necessary, then consultants are more than able to conduct inspections.

Regulatory authorities for agricultural produce are not relevant in a modern free-market economy. These are vestiges of a colonial era influenced by socialism and ought to be abolished.

LIPTON MATTHEWS

lo_matthews@yahoo.com