23 May 2018

Botswana: Govt Improves Business Landscape

Gaborone — Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has embarked on policy and regulatory reforms to improve business landscape in the country and doing business rankings.

This was said by Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Ms Bogolo Kenewendo when officially opening this year's Corporate Registers Forum (CRF) in Gaborone, hosted by Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA).

Ms Kenewendo said the reforms included the ministry's 2014 adoption of the Doing Business Roadmap and Action Plan, aimed to reduce the cost of doing business as well as create an environment where business was not hampered by unnecessary regulations and bureaucracy.

"The Forum however comes at a time when amendments to both Companies and Registration of Business Names Acts allow for re-registration of both the existing companies and Business names, which has paved way for the implementation of the online business registration system (OBRS)," she said.

Minister Kenewendo explained that the OBRS would be launched the first quarter of 2019 bringing with it improved data integrity, less paperwork and improved overall efficiency of Botswana's registry.

"We expect a significant improvement in our overall doing business ranking as well as our Staring-a-Business ranking by 2020, and as a result, an enhancement of the overall competitiveness of the country," she said.

She informed the forum that on the 2018 World Bank Doing Business rankings, Botswana ranked 81 in the world and fourth in Sub Saharan Africa. "On the starting a business ranking, we have been rated 153 in the world and 31 in Africa," and these rankings, she added affected the country's ability to attract the much needed foreign direct investment essential for employment creation and economic growth.

This, she said had allowed the country to take deliberate action to improve its international standing as a way of making Botswana a destination of choice for investors.

She also highlighted that in recent years, Botswana made commendable strides in as far as improvement of the business landscape was concerned, citing the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), which had since 2016, been operating a more accessible and efficient system for filing and paying taxes, and the implementation of a new automated customs data management system, which had positively impacted on cross border training.

To buttress and reinforce Botswana's commitment to improving the business environment, Ms Kenewendo said her ministry through Pillar One of Vision 2036, made a commitment to sustainable economic development, underpinned by diversified and inclusive growth driven by high levels of productivity and an export-led economy.

"This ambitious, though completely attainable vision, seeks to move the country from a middle to a high-income economy," she said.

Minister Kenewendo further noted that a multi-stakeholder partnership approach, with both government and private sector cooperating and collaborating to create a facilitative business environment would also assist to catapult the required economic transformation.

CIPA was also called upon to play a leading role in coordinating all parties involved in the improvement of the ease of doing business in the country, changing it from just concepts and policies to executable and practical measures that a country can reap the benefits of.

In addition, the minister noted that business reforms could not be done in isolation, hence the gathering of expert minds to help improve the efficiencies of corporate registries. CRF, she added was vital in providing the networking and information sharing opportunities.

Further, she commended the government of New Zealand for their commitment in assisting Botswana with the modernisation of the country's registry, which has helped in cutting down the turn-around time for registering a company in Botswana.

The minister also elaborated on the challenges that come with improved regulatory environments such as terrorism financing and money laundering through the use of duly registered corporate bodies.

She however encouraged the conference to come up with ways of dealing with such problems before they could reverse the economic gains made by governments around the world.

Ms Kenewendo also stated that developing countries still faced lack of adequate telecommunications infrastructure in the remote areas, making consumption of online business registration services almost impossible.

She also challenged 150 delegates from 47 countries attending the conference to mitigate the challenges by lobbying for upgrading of e-government systems.

Source : BOPA

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