Ease of doing business reforms gather momentum

Lawson Mabhena News Editor
Government’s Ease of Doing Business reforms have recorded massive progress which includes procedures for property registration being reduced from five to four, the establishment of a credit registry, increase in the number of small claims courts from two to 10, the establishment of four commercial courts and a 41 percent reduction in compliance checkpoints at Beitbridge Border Post.

The reforms, which involve the removal of regulatory, transactional and administrative hurdles in doing business, have also received a major boost from Government’s legislative agenda which has already seen the passing of the Insolvency Bill as well as several other pieces of legislation including the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) Bill, which will ensure that all investments are processed under one roof.

The Ease of Doing Business reform milestones are contained in Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube’s State of the Economy report which was presented to Parliament last week.

“Government, under the TSP (Transitional Stabilisation Programme), continues to pursue ease of doing business reforms as part of broad measures on enhancing the country’s investment environment. The reforms target administrative and other legislative bottlenecks under various statutes.

“A lot of administrative procedures, timelines and costs have been reviewed and streamlined to facilitate the Ease of Doing Business between 12 February and 29 April 2019,” Minister Ncube said.

“These reforms are:

Improving the overall quality and efficiency of the property registration system in Zimbabwe through improved quality of registering property, reducing number of procedures from five to four and improved land dispute resolution;
The establishment of a credit registry to facilitate the obtaining of credit has been completed;
Improving the enforcement of contracts through increasing the number of small claims courts from two to 10 and the establishment of commercial courts from zero to four. The operationalisation of the magistrates’ courts to be done after the validation and gazetting of the requisite court rules;
Improving trading across borders through reviewing of checkpoints for both imports and exports clearance processes at Beitbridge.”
The TSP also strives to ensure that there are no arbitrary policy reversals, contradicting policy announcements and interpretation by different agencies of the same Government.

Progress on the legislative agenda began with the passing of the Insolvency Bill and Shop Licence Bill in May last year. The Insolvency Bill provides for the administration of insolvent and assigned estates and the consolidation of insolvency legislation in Zimbabwe while the Shop Licence Bill seeks to remove impediments in getting a business licence.

Also passed last year was the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Act, which enhances transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and ensures that resources collected by public entities are used for delivering vital public services efficiently.

The ZIDA Bill, tabled and gazetted before Parliament on April 5, amalgamates three investment agencies — Zimbabwe Investment Authority, Joint Ventures Unit and Special Economic Zones Authority — into a one-stop shop.

The Census and Statistics Amendment Act allows for dissemination of micro data to data users, while the Companies and Other Business Entities Bill will modernise the registration and management of companies and improve corporate governance.

The Bill will replace the outdated Companies Act promulgated in 1951. It was the first Bill to be gazetted following the legislative agenda outlined by President Mnangagwa when he presented his State of the Nation Address and officially opened the First Session of the Ninth Parliament in April.

The Bill is still before Parliament and currently at the Second Reading stage.
Other Bills include the Regional Town and Country Planning Amendment Bill, which will improve the time taken and procedures for issuing construction permits, and the National Social Security Authority Act reducing employee-related tax payments from 36 to 12.

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