The one year VISA granted to foreign investors is usually shorter than their business contracts.
The Private Sector Federation (PSF), the umbrella organisation of the private sector in Rwanda, on Friday held the first ever dialogue with Rwanda’s foreign investors, to gather feedback on how to improve the business environment.
The dialogue dubbed; “Foreign Investors Forum (FIF)” will be held quarterly. It seeks to encourage close networking on business issues.
“We look forward to engage our members and stakeholders on a regular basis to get their views on the challenges of doing business as well as get your advice,” said Robert Bayigamba, the federation’s chairman.
While putting forward some of the challenges of doing business, the foreign investors singled out over regulation by the authorities as the major bottleneck.
The investors also said that the pension law blocks them from receiving their pension funds while they are still residing in Rwanda.
The law stipulates that pension must be received after they have left the country, something they (foreign investors) consider to be expensive.
According to the investors, the one year VISA granted to them is usually shorter than their business contracts hence renewing cost inconveniences.
They also said that Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) takes a long time, normally three months to approve imported goods and equipment.
This, according to the investors is not necessary and hinders business growth.
Emmanuel Hategeka, the federation’s CEO responded: “with these challenges, the PSF has embarked on strengthening Rwanda’s private sector companies through business extension services, building human capacity and facilitating long term sources of funds for private businesses.”
The federation assured the investors that it is going to engage the immigration department to harmonize the validity of their VISA’s with the contracts and the national social security fund to sort out the pension problems.
The PSF said that it is advocating to make investors comfortable with the business environment in the country.
The recent achievements in advocacy include; removal of the 1.2 percent of capital on business registration, reduction of consumption tax on airtime to three percent from the 2007 budget tax imposition of 10 percent as well as slashing excise duty on locally processed juices from 39 percent to five percent.
Other achievements include the six percent property transfer fee which was replaced by a flat fee of Rwf20,000 and the extended 24 hours border operations.
As a result of advocating for the private sector, the multiplicity of taxes charged by decentralized units was abolished.
In the same development, the PSF has widened its business development centres to a network of 15 districts outside Kigali.
The centres have the mandate of supporting the development of rural Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through capacity building.
PSF is also currently in the process of establishing the Kigali International Arbitration Centre, a body which will provide alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The writer is a freelancer