Various efforts are under way to improve South Africa’s business ranking, the Trade and Industry Ministry has assured in response to a Parliamentary question published on Monday.
In response to a question about the steps being taken by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) to ensure the country turns around its decline in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, the Ministry said the DTIC had, through InvestSA, signed a cooperation agreement with the World Bank on March 11 to address issues of investment climate reform over the next two to three years.
The Ministry pointed out that President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced South Africa’s commitment to improving its investment climate and ease of doing business, and set a target to be in top 50 of the Ease of Doing Business Rankings – the country ranked eighty-second this year, compared with its ranking of thirty-second in 2009.
This goal was set to make South Africa an attractive investment destination, the Ministry said, adding that the national reform effort was being carried out collaboratively with relevant government departments, agencies and the private sector.
To operationalise the national reform initiative, InvestSA, with the technical support of the World Bank, had prioritised five of the ten indicators in the Doing Business report. The prioritised indicators are: starting a business; registering property; paying taxes; trading across borders; and dealing with construction permits.
Specific reforms for each of the prioritisation indicators have been identified. These indicators were selected based on their comparative low ranking in the World Bank’s survey, as well as their usefulness to local entrepreneurs.
Technical working groups have been established on these indicators and comprise members from both business and government, for the indicators of: enforcing of contracts; getting access to electricity; resolving insolvency; getting credit; and the protection of minority shareholders, the Ministry noted.
Further, a roadmap had been developed with short-term (six to eight months) and medium to long term (18 to 24 months) reform action plans.
The DTIC is also pioneering e-government services to improve the process to starting a business.
Government is expected to go live with a business portal by October, the Ministry said.
The new business portal will allow domestic firms to complete their company registration, domain name registration, broad-based black economic empowerment certificates and South African Revenue Service registration online at the same time.
In addition, InvestSA is working with the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Fund to integrate these processes into a single online platform, which will be a first for South Africa, the Ministry pointed out.