HARARE, June 14 (The Source) – Zimbabwe has reduced the time it takes to register a company from 90 to 13 days, as part of a broad effort to improve the ease of doing business in the country, an official said on Tuesday.
Speaking during a review of the second 100-day review on Tuesday, deputy company registrar Willie Mushayi, who heads the sub-committee on starting businesses, said there are plans to further reduce the company registration period from the 13 days.
“The number of days to start a business has reduced to 13 and we are still reviewing it further down,” he said.
Zimbabwe has consistently ranked poorly in the World Bank’s annual ease of doing business index, mainly due to its poor investment climate as well as red tape. The 2016 index ranked Zimbabwe at 155 out of the 189 countries ranked. The country was ranked 153 in 2015.
In terms of the specific “starting a business” index, Zimbabwe placed 182 in 2016, only better than seven other countries.
By comparison, Rwanda, widely seen as having one of the best conditions for registering a company, takes up to 6 days to start a business.
Zimbabwe continues to lag behind its regional peers in terms of foreign direct investment flows, registering $545 million in 2014 as Mozambique received $4,9 billion, nearly nine times more, pacesetter South Africa $5,7 billion and Zambia $2,4 billion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report for 2015.
The government has just concluded a second 100-day programme, dubbed the Rapid Results Approach (RRA), through which agencies involved in the registration of businesses, tax authorities and municipalities remove bureaucratic hurdles, cut time and costs while simplifying business processes for investors.
Several laws, including the Companies Act and a statute setting up a commercial court, are set to be passed as part of the broader effort launched last year.
Nine technical areas – Paying Taxes, Starting a Business, Trading Across Borders, Resolving Insolvency, Getting Credit, Enforcing Contracts , Registering Property, Construction Permits; and Protecting Minority Investors – have been identified under the reform push, which is being driven the Office of the President and Cabinet.
The government has set itself targets to be achieved in a series of 100-day programmes.
Functions such as name searches will now be done online.
Registration at the statutory pension fund National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has also been reduced from 14 days to 15 minutes, while registration with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has also been cut from 14 days to 30 minutes, according to Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) chairman Nigel Chanakira.
Chanakira, one of Zimbabwe’s leading black bankers and founder of the first locally-owned commercial bank in the 1990s, took to Twitter to laud the reforms.
“Truly, in my 22 years doing business in Zimbabwe I’ve never seen such remarkable and amazing movement by the entire government of Zimbabwe to reduce costs and time,” Chanakira tweeted.
At $250, the cost of company registration in Zimbabwe still remains high compared to regional peers. Rwanda, for instance, charges the equivalent of $20 to register a company for both foreign and local investors.
Progress in other thematic areas such as taxes, trade, insolvency procedures, getting credit, enforcing contracts, property registration, construction permits and minority investor protection is also under review at the ongoing workshop.