Govt moves to cut bureaucracy and red tape to promote ease of doing business Corporate registries, through the services they provide, play a pivotal role in the functioning of local and global economies. The Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo said this when giving a keynote address at the Corporate Registers Forum in Gaborone this week. Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) hosted other corporate registries from all over the world. Kenewendo said it should be acknowledged and accepted that much more still needs to be done in business reforms. She said it is in this regard that the country embarked on policy and regulatory reforms to improve the business land scape in Botswana and consequently improve the doing business rankings. Key among these reforms – according to Kenewendo – was the adoption in 2014 of the Doing Business Roadmap and Action Plan, whose objective is to reduce the cost of doing business in Botswana as well as create an environment where business is not hampered by unnecessary regulation and bureaucracy. Parliament has recently passed amendments to both companies and the registration of Business Names Acts as well as introduction of new pieces of legislation that allows for re-registration of both the existing companies and business names, paving way for the implementation of the Online Business Registration System (OBRS). The system is expected to be launched during the first quarter of 2019 and is expected to bring with it benefits such as improve data integrity, reduced turnaround times, less paperwork and improved overall efficiency. “We, therefore, want a significant improvement in our overall doing business ranking as well as our starting-a-business ranking and as a result, an enhancement of the overall competitiveness of the country,” said Kenewendo. In order to move the country from a middle income to a high-income economy, Kenewendo said they have through Pillar One of the National Vision 2036, made a commitment to sustainable economic development, underpinned by diversified and inclusive growth driven by high levels of productivity and an export-led economy. While it used to take a month to register a company in Botswana, with the expertise gained from the Forum which CIPA has been a member of, the minister said the turnaround is now a few days and the arrival of the OBRS is expected to reduce company registration to just a few hours. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Peggy Serame, said for the country to achieve a diversified economy it needs a strong broad base of businesses as well as enhanced Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and as such CIPA is critical to maintain a proper registry for all businesses. She said the ministry continuously reviews polices, and among them is the introduction of one person companies to allow for flexibility in ownership of a company and the introduction of specified duties and powers of directors to promote good corporate governance as well as allowing investors to register companies without the input of local experts. The role of CIPA in economic growth is said to expand to the Doing Business Reforms and directly contributes to six reforms in the roadmap, among them being the introduction of business registration deadlines; introduction of unique identification number for businesses; use of advanced ITC system to digitise company database in the medium to long term. In addition to these reforms, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre, has in October 2017 launched a one stop service centre to provide investors with a single place to pick up all documents and approvals that are needed to start operations. The service centre provides support to both existing and new investors both local and foreign.