As the end of 2008 approaches, small and medium scale investors in the country have expressed joy over reforms in the business sector which the government adopted in 2008 to reduce the cost and burden of investing in Rwanda.
A handful of small scale investors interviewed in a random survey carried out by The New Times since the beginning of December across selected suburbs in Kigali city, revealed that the private sector investors were happy with continued effort by government in improving conditions of accessing capital, reducing non tariff barriers and “a reasonable tax policy”.
According to Innocent Nsengiyumva, a wholesale shop owner in Remera, today he is capable of importing his goods from Kenya and Uganda without much hassle from customs officials and as a result his turnover rates have also increased.
Claude Mupenzi an importer of fashion clothes in Kicukiro said that he was happy with the increased working hours of the customs border posts and the cooperation of Kenyan authorities since both countries have increased bilateral relations in the business sector. He said however that there were challenges in the transportation of the goods as costs are still very high.
The investors’ remarks come at a time when the government has embarked on a vigorous campaign to make its ambition of making Rwanda a regional investment hub a reality.
This started with President Paul Kagame authorizing the establishment of a national Doing Business Unit, a task force under the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA), to identify and drive implementation of reforms to improve Rwanda’s business climate.
The task force began its work in December 2007 and, within nine months had identified and successfully implemented 15 investment climate improvements, most of which were captured in the current survey.
According to Kempeta Sayinzoga, a senior official in the Ministry of Finance and economic planning, the government reviewed 14 commercial laws in 2008, the laws are part of government’s commitment to promote commercial courts to deal with business related issues between private investors and government authorities, they are also part of government’s intention of building confidence in private and public sector partnerships.
Sayinzoga also says that her ministry has implemented four out of 10 reforms that are crucial in streamlining procedures and requirements needed to start up a business in the country.
She adds that because of these reforms, Rwanda has been able to move up the ladder on the World Bank Doing Business Index.
Sayinzoga further added that the Rwanda Development Board was created to consolidate institutions geared towards increasing efficiency of service delivery to investors in the country.
Some of the institutions introduced in the year include Business Registry Agency, Land Registry all geared towards reducing bureaucracy for investors.
The finance ministry has also since the beginning of the year held regular meetings between the Private Sector Federation and Rwanda Revenue Authority to discuss tax and private sector development.
The Rwanda Revenue Authority has also introduced a scheme to reward good compliers; as a result small scale investors in the country are now more cooperative in paying taxes on time.