The Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) has called for comprehensive reforms in the business acquisition process by collapsing the permits processes from 145 to seven in a bid to spur the growth of the private sector.
This is expected to reduce the delays and cost of business registrations and spur the growth of the private sector on.
The Chief Executive Officer of PEF, Nana Osei-Bonsu, said in an interview with the Graphic Business that, “If we are able to reduce the cost of doing business in the SMEs sector and reduce the delays as well, we will cut inflation by at least 30 per cent in the country”.
The agencies with cross-sectoral licensing requirements include the Registrar General’s Department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the Department of Factories Inspectorate and the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD).
He lamented that a study commissioned by PEF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2011 revealed that there were 145 business licenses among the ministries, department and agencies as well as the metropolitan, municipal assembly and district assemblies in Ghana.
Lack of coordination
He noted that there were no coordination among the ministries, department and agencies and the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in issuing those certificates, adding that the operation of EPA for instance was not decentralised and applicants for environmental permit certificate had to travel to Accra to access such services.
The delay and efficiency associated with acquiring business certificates such as fire, environmental and business operating permits were having a negative toll on the private sector businesses, Nana Osei-Bonsu stated.
“The delay and the inefficiency associated with acquiring business license created additional cost to the private sector,” he said, and attributed the problem to the lack of logistics and personnel for the above-mentioned agencies”.
Nana Osei-Bonsu added that the processes of acquiring licences and permits for business operations are key determinants of private sector development and economic growth and for that reason the nature and mode of implementation of those licences and permits were having great effects on the private sector.
“Any delay in acquiring the licences and permits add to the cost of doing business”, he stated.
“The private sector is ready to pay additional charges which will help to improve the efficiency and address the challenges facing the GNFS, EPA, TCPD and the DOFI,” he said.
Parliamentary Committee’s worry
The Vice Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Science, Technology and Innovative, Mr Ben Azure, lamented that although the private sector was the engine of growth, it did not have access to the right information and documentations which was a setback to the country.
“Like, we are looking at the private sector; you come to realise that when these documentations are delayed they add cost to the business which they also pass on to the final consumers”.
You realise that sometimes when the documentations are delayed so much, people sometimes do engage in illegal moves to get their businesses registered, he stressed.
Mr Mohammed Alhassan, a Principal Officer of the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) said the deparment had recognised the difficulties the business operators went through before they could register their businesses.
He added: “We have also conducted a study to find out that the turnaround time was too short, which the 2016 World Bank Doing Business Report pegged at 200 days. We also found that sheer bureaucracies among others delayed documentations”.
“With this background, we have also set up a process to do reforms on our side. but as we speak the reforms have gone far. We wanted to have harmonised guidelines for issuing licenses which is about 80 to 90 per cent complete. But we should not wait to have 100 per cent before we can rollout”.
“Going for inspections, we have to inspect project sites before permits are considered. In the past, the Town and Country Planning Department, and the Works and Housing Department, among others had to inspect project sites separately but now we do joint inspections to speed up the process of issuing permits”.