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Doing business in Sd to be easier

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MBABANE – The enactment of the Companies Bill, the Trade and Facilitation Bill and the Investment Policy hold the key to making it easier to do business in Swaziland.

The Doing Business 2010 report issued last week shows that Swaziland slipped one place backwards ranking at 115 from 114 the previous year. The survey published by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) under the World Bank was done in 183 countries.

The report clearly states that no major reform was recorded in Swaziland. General Manager of the Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIPA) Phiwayinkhosi Ginindza agreed there were no major reforms recorded locally. He, however, said that did not mean nothing was being done on the ground.

“There is a lot that is being done to ensure the environment is made more conducive for business locally. The major hindrance is the delays in implementation, for instance, of pieces of legislation,” he said. He noted the Companies Bill and the Trade and Facilitation Bills which are yet to be enacted.

“These two pieces of legislation would ensure that starting a business is made easier; the latter seeks to shorten the number of days it takes to process trading licences from the 21 days to at least five working days. The Companies Bill seeks to help recognise the protection of investors, among other things,” Ginindza said. He continued: “As SIPA, we are also pushing for the development of the Investment Policy. We have formulated the Issues Paper and will draft the policy soon; we should have the draft Bill by December this year.”

He said they were supported by the Southern African Trade and Competitiveness Hub, which was facilitating process of the development of the Investment Policy. When asked on the major challenges that resulted in the country slipping backwards with ‘ease of doing business’ Ginindza said one of the challenges was flow of information.

“The process of information flow takes very long; there are delays in the turn-around time. Moreover, the government agencies and ministries involved, for instance with the registration of companies, are fragmented. The processes are also inter-twined such that an investor cannot open a bank account without a trading licence, but the bank account is also a requirement when applying for a trading licence. Moreover, one is required to produce a health report for premises when applying for a trading licence while the health report is conducted when one already has premises.

There are also issues with getting residence permits on foreign investors, where there are also delays,” explained Ginindza. Ginindza said he believed some of these requirements could be waived and compliance monitored within the first year of operation by the investor. “It is my belief that some of the requirements could be waived to allow the investor to get the trading licence. To ensure compliance with the waived requirements, monitoring would be needed and those not complying could have their licences not renewed,” he said.

Ginindza further disclosed that a Steering Committee involving all stakeholders within government ministries had already been appointed to address the issues of information flow. “This committee will help with information flow among the ministries involved when an investor wants to open a business in Swaziland. In fact, SIPA is preparing an action plan, which will be presented to the committee next week, on areas that need unlocking and bottlenecks that have to be removed,” he said.

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