Friday, October 28, 2016

Zimbabwe Herald Editorial: Let Us Do More to Cut Red Tape
October 27, 2016

GOVERNMENT needs to move at a faster pace in implementing the ongoing ease of doing business reforms to improve Zimbabwe’s global rankings and attractiveness to investment. Efforts by Government to improve the domestic business environment are meant to cut costs, shorten processes for starting a business and getting approvals for investors. Many countries on the continent and across the world have spiritedly undertaken reforms with urgency in demonstration of their hunger to attract significant investment. Given our situation, we surely should do more and better than our peers and the rest of the world to bring about the kind of environment that makes us a darling for investors.

We say so because inspite of registering some positive reforms to improve business environment, Zimbabwe has slipped on World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings for 2017 from 157 to 161.

The Doing Business Report presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights compared across 190 economies and it is WB’s flagship publication that measures countries’ regulations governing business activity. Despite the progress made in improving ease of doing business, the reforms undertaken thus far have not been able to improve Zimbabwe’s position of the WB rankings.

Zimbabwe is desperately seeking foreign investment and the country needs offshore capital to boost the economy. As such, moving at a snail’s pace as far as doing business reforms are concerned will only make the country the least preferred investment destination. Over the past few years, Zimbabwe has been lagging behind regional countries such as Mozambique in terms of attracting foreign investment.

This is despite the advantages the country possesses, among them, the use of a stable currency, a highly skilled population and fairly stable political environment. Economies are ranked on their flexibility on the ease of doing business, from 1–190. A high position on the ease of doing business rankings means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a business in a country.

The WB’s rankings are determined by sorting the aggregate distance to frontier scores on 10 topics, each consisting of several indicators, giving equal weight to each topic. The rankings for all economies are benchmarked to June 2016.

The WB has noted that Zimbabwe made dealing with construction permits faster by streamlining the building plan approval process. Registration of property was made easier after the launch of an official website containing information on the list of documents and fees for completing a property transaction, as well as, a specific timeframe for delivering a legally binding document that proves property owner- ship.

Zimbabwe also improved access to credit information through the establishment of a credit registry. However, Zimbabwe made trading across borders more difficult by introducing mandatory pre-shipment inspection for imported products.

As a result, Zimbabwe was almost static in terms of distance to frontier score, moving only 0,2 points. Since 2015, Zimbabwe through the Office of the President and Cabinet was overseeing the Doing Business reform initiative using the Rapid Results Initiative approach.

Given that the process is being spearheaded from the highest office in the country, we can only implore authorities to go a gear up and accelerate such that by the time the next report comes out, there will be very little left out in terms of all reforms.

It is also critically important for Government to see to it that the reforms do not just appear a process formally completed on paper, but that the new way of doing business is promptly implemented in order to attract investment for the benefit of us all.

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