Govt mulls more business reforms

The government is set to embark on public awareness campaigns on doing business reforms recently implemented in a bid to register improvement in the World Bank Doing Business Report.
Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, Francois Kanimba, addressing a press conference in Kigali last week. / Nadege imbabazi
Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, Francois Kanimba, addressing a press conference in Kigali last week. / Nadege imbabazi

The government is set to embark on public awareness campaigns on doing business reforms recently implemented in a bid to register improvement in the World Bank Doing Business Report.

The latest World Bank Doing Business Report was presented this month by Dr Rita Ramalho, the publication’s manager, placing Rwanda second in Africa after Mauritius and first in the East Africa region.

According to the Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, Francois Kanimba, the government has noted that some of the reforms are not taken into account because of low impact to members of the private sector.

In an interview with The New Times last week, the minister said in the process of assessing the business environment, the report’s authors consult the government as well as members of the privates sector, who at times do not understand reforms that have been introduced.

“This is important because when the World Bank team comes into the country to make their assessment, they hear from the government and from the private sector. At times they may hear something that is not matching what is on the ground, and yet they trust the beneficiaries of the reforms more,” he said.

By reaching out to raise awareness on reforms carried out in their interest, Kanimba said, Rwanda could register improvement in the index as the comments by the private sector are likely to reflect the reforms made.

Last week, a ministerial steering committee of agencies involved in the various aspects of doing business met to deliberate on the way forward to register improvement.

Other improvements expected in coming days in response to the report include dealing with construction permits, as well as payment of taxes where Rwanda slid back in performance.

In regards to dealing with construction permits, Kigali city Mayor Monique Mukaruliza said they were working on seeing how they can work to improve the quality of buildings without necessarily increasing the bureaucracy.

In the 2017 issue of the Doing Business report, Rwanda dropped from 37 to 159 position globally in dealing with construction permits owing to multiple time consuming steps.

The government is also considering reforms in paying taxes which slid down 11 steps, largely due to a new law requiring businesses to make monthly declarations as opposed to quarterly.

The Rwanda Revenue Authority commissioner general, Richard Tushabe, said they are looking into the concerns with the possibility of having quarterly declarations as opposed to monthly ones.

Leonard Rugwabiza, the chief economist at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said Rwanda had already began implementing reforms in e-procurement to improve procedures for small and medium enterprises.

He also noted that there were reforms in areas that the report is yet to take into account such as tax appeal, and upon review, Rwanda is projected to perform better.

“We are in discussion and we are doing reforms in terms of the tax appeal board, and when it is introduced in the new methodology in coming years, we believe we will perform better,” he noted.

Dr Romalho told The New Times that the government move to improve the business environment would provide resilience to macro-economic shocks such as the current global economic slowdown.

She noted that embracing technology had a big impact on improving the business environments in countries as it makes it easier for both governments and private sector to carry out transactions.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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