Investment body adds reforms to ease doing business in Rwanda

In Summary
•The new reforms, mostly tackling key thematic areas of the World Bank Doing Business benchmark, are said to aim at not only improving on global doing business standards but also ensuring sustainability of local and foreign businesses in the country.
•The 2015 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Rwanda the 55 out of 189 countries worldwide, becoming third easiest place to do business in the sub-Saharan Africa.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is implementing additional reforms that are expected to reduce the cost of doing business for the private sector.

This includes automating processes and procedures to enable businesses to get services online including access to permits, property registration and the court services, among others.

For instance, time to access a construction permit has reduced to 20 days from 50.

Time required to apply and obtain the survey plan, occupation permits and freehold titles was also reduced from 30 to only three days, and the services were now made free of charge, according to RDB.

The country’s investment promotion body also announced that this year will see its online systems upgraded and more services added, removing all unnecessary requirements and procedures.

“For those involved in imports and exports we are soon making sure that services like cargo lease order, transit document and shipment inspection are made easy,” says Karim Tushabe, a legal consultant with RDB’s doing business unit.

Meanwhile, the property registration and transfer will be effected in one day, while employee registration normally done with Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), and Value Added Tax registration will all be done simultaneously with the company incorporation at RDB, available online.

The new reforms, mostly tackling key thematic areas of the World Bank Doing Business benchmark, are said to aim at not only improving on global doing business standards but also ensuring sustainability of local and foreign businesses in the country.

The 2015 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Rwanda the 55 out of 189 countries worldwide, becoming third easiest place to do business in the sub-Saharan Africa.

However, while Rwanda’s business community applauds the reforms as important to making the business environment conducive, it still decries the poor service delivery.

Some business operators cited flaws in implementation of some effected reforms and inefficiencies linked to the Internet delivery.

“Our main issue is poor service delivery. Everything is getting automated which means the Internet has to be more efficient, but sometimes you have to wait for hours because the Internet is congested,” said Richard Mugisha, a member of the business community.

Mr Mugisha’s concerns were echoed by fellow business men at the doing business workshop held recently in Kigali.

Issues raised cut across a wide range of areas namely flaws in the taxation on imported right hand-drive trucks following a recent waiver on the long-standing ban as well as settlement of court cases involving import and property rights disputes.

Others are to do with complexities arising from liquidation and business closure processes, alongside delays in execution of judgments blamed partly on lack of information.

They are concerns mostly calling for examination of loopholes in the legal and policy framework while others could necessitate concerned institutions to dialogue and find solutions.

“The business environment is not yet where we want it to be, so I can promise that we shall continue to make sure that all the challenges are addressed,” said Innocent Bajiji, acting head of investment promotion and facilitation at RDB.

The East African