21 March 2013

Swaziland: Govt 'Sneers At World Bank Report'

Swaziland's Government has dismissed a World Bank report showing how difficult it is to do business in the kingdom with sneering disdain.

Contacted for comment, by the Swazi Observer newspaper, Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane 'could not provide a clear response as to what makes the country remain stagnant in the world rankings'.

The newspaper added, 'He only said it remains with the World Bank to explain how it arrived at the position and why the country's position has not changed since last year.'

He went on to say that the World Bank report, called Doing Business in Swaziland, was not true because it was 'based on perceptions'.

Obviously, Simelane has not read the report. If he had he would see that it was based on detailed analyses of what is actually happening on the ground and what business must go through if they want to set up in Swaziland.

Here are some examples from the report of how much time it takes to get things done in Swaziland.

If you want a construction permit to build a warehouse:

1 Submit plans to the local council and obtain approval: 42 days

2 Hire a Certificate of Environment Compliance to prepare an environmental impact assessment: 21 days

3 Request and obtain a Certificate of Environmental Compliance: 42 days

4 Obtain Certificate of Occupancy: 15 days

5 Request and connect to telephone: 14 days.

If you want electricity in your business:

1 Submit application to Swaziland Electricity Board and await estimate: 30 days

2 Get connected: 99 days.

And so it goes on.

The report concluded that there had been no change in Swaziland over the past year and the kingdom remained number 123 out of 185 countries surveyed.

The Swazi Government wants people to think the World Bank just makes up these reports out of thin air. But, if ministers bothered to read the report they would find that questionnaires are sent to local experts, 'including lawyers, business consultants, accountants, freight forwarders, government officials and other professionals routinely administering or advising on legal and regulatory requirements.

'These experts have several rounds of interaction with the Doing Business team, involving conference calls, written correspondence and visits by the team.'

Simelane needs to stop sneering and get the government to start addressing how it could improve the business environment in Swaziland to attract much needed investment and jobs.

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