Investors: This is what’s impeding reform blueprint

They include the introduction of new fees by regulatory authorities and lack of a proper code of ethics

Summary

  • Challenges listed in a new report include the introduction of new fees by regulatory authorities, lack of a proper code of ethics in law enforcement and information gaps between business associations and business firms

Dar es Salaam. Investors have cited a number of challenges impeding the implementation of the blueprint for regulatory reforms meant to improve the investment climate.

They include the introduction of new fees by regulatory authorities, lack of a proper code of ethics in law enforcement and information gaps between business associations and business firms.

The list also includes resistance to change by local government authorities (LGAs), shortage of personnel at one-stop centres, lack of good legal and institutional frameworks, as well as minimal cooperation for inter-ministerial regulatory authorities.

The challenges are highlighted in the Draft Blueprint for Regulatory Reforms Implementation Impact Assessment Report released at the weekend.

The report was presented by Mr Baraka Aligaesha, the acting director for business environment in the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade.

He made the presentation at an event organised by the European Union in collaboration with the European Union Business Group (EUBG).

Commenting on the report, Breakthrough Attorneys senior partner Kheri Mbiro said for the implementation of the blueprint to be successful, its execution should be sectorial-based.

In doing so, the government will have more stakeholders’ views with regard to regulations affecting business.

“Specific staff should handle specific sectors instead of general business,” Mr Mbiro recommended.

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) director of policy, research and advocacy Andrew Mahiga expressed the need for a legal push to compel LGAs to undertake reforms as recommended in the blueprint.

“It is pointless for local government authorities to resist something that is happening at the national level. We need to have A law compelling them to implement the blueprint,” he said.

Breakthrough Advisory Services partner Joseph Waziri said all ministries should be on the same page when it comes to the implementation of the blueprint.

“Currently, things are different on the ground. In some cases, we face the challenge where some ministries are not on the same wavelength when it comes to the execution of reforms as highlighted in the blueprint. This needs to be addressed,” he said.

A senior official from the Association of Tanzania Oil and Gas Service Providers (Atogs), Mr Sebastian Bartholomew, said accessing information has been a challenge for a long time and asked the government to address the problem.

Presenting the report, Mr Aligaesha said investors were of the view that the government should regulate new fees and review those in existence at both the central government and LGA levels.

“Investors want the government to review the Business Facilitation Bill and process its approval to have the Act,” he said.

For that to work, he added, investors have called for a complaint portal to allow existing and prospective investors to submit their complaints.

Mr Aligaesha said investors have also proposed the assessment of existing one-stop centres to identify their efficiency in service delivery.

Furthermore, investors proposed that the government build an online register for reforms implemented in various ministries and regulatory authorities.

“Investors said it is high time we developed a consolidated online procedures mapping portal with real-time updates.”

The portal, Mr Aligaesha said, will also allow business stakeholders to have another rich source of data on the status of blueprint implementation.

Investors, Mr Aligaesha added, called for the collaboration model used by regulatory authorities under one ministry and rollout.

On the issue of lack of a proper code of ethics in law enforcement, investors expressed the need for conducting thorough assessment of officers of regulatory authorities to maintain benefits of reforms.

“Misuse of power for personal gain is unacceptable,” Mr Aligaesha said.

On concerns about LGAs’ resistance to reforms, he said investors had suggested the establishment of the change of management plan which will focus on awareness among stakeholders, including business firms and the public.

Mr Aligaesha said the government was formulating the legal and regulatory framework meant to address challenges before they were felt by businesses.

EUBG executive director Emma Oriyo said feedback and recommendations shared by the participants played a significant role in further shaping regulatory reforms to improve the business environment for the European private sector in Tanzania.

Going by the government’s assessment report on the implementation of the blueprint, which started in July 2019, reforms led to an increase in revenue collected by regulatory authorities, increase in the number of permits issued permits and reduction in red tape in the processing of permits.

According to the report, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), for instance, abolished six fees and in turn its annual revenue collection jumped from Sh34 billion before reforms to Sh63 billion.

The Tanzania Ports Authority’s revenue climbed from Sh661 billion before reforms to Sh907 billion.

Revenue collected by the Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) increased from Sh75 billion before reforms to Sh89 billion, according to the report.

The number of days in which permits are processed were reduced from an average of 14 days to three days on the assumption that submitted applications are complete and electronic systems available.

As a result, there was an increase of issued permits by regulatory authorities.

The Business Registration and Licensing Agency (Brela), for instance, registered an average of 10,656 companies a year after reforms, up from an average of 7,817 before reforms.

TMDA ws now issuing an average of 13,288 permits for imports annually compared to an average of 5,745 permits before reforms.

The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) is now issuing an average of 1,088 permits per year compared to 715 permits before reforms.

The blueprint was established with a view to harmonising business policies, laws, regulations, fees, taxes and levies.