PEF pushes for reforms in business registration

The Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), is to come out with a position paper on reforms to improve business registration and application of permit and certificates.

Among others, the position paper would, highlight need for the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) and Department of Factories Inspectorate (DOFI) to retain their fees to help them financially to deliver on their mandate.

Nana Osei-Bonsu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), who disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting for the business community and some government agencies in Accra on Friday, said the move, was to enhance the ease of doing business in the country.

He explained that a study commissioned by PEF with support from the Business Sector Advocacy (BUSAC) Fund in 2012/2013, catalogued a number of technical, human resource and logistical challenges facing the GNFS EPA, TCPD, and DOFI, hampering the effective operations of those agencies.

Nana Osei-Bonsu said the study titled, ‘Streamlining of cross-sectoral licensing requirements”, called for reforms to reduce the cumbersome processes and delay associated with acquiring business license by private business sector operators in the country.

He explained 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.

According to the CEO of PEF, the delay and efficiency associated with acquiring business certificates such as fire, environmental and business operating permit was having a negative toll on the private sector businesses.

“The delay and the inefficiency associated with acquiring business license add additional cost to the private sector,” he said, and attributed the problem to lack of logistics and personnel for the agencies covered by the study.

Nana Osei-Bonsu said there were about 154 business licenses among the ministries, department and agencies as well as the metropolitan, municipal assembly and district assemblies.

“The study for instance revealed that the Ghana National Fire Service had only 50 fire inspectors cross the country which were woefully inadequate,” he said.

“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.

Nana Osei-Bonsu said the engagement with the agencies aforementioned “is beginning to yield positive results, saying the TCPD had currently developed a spatial planning bill to be presented to Parliament and the Cabinet has also approved some of the reforms proposed by the study for the EPA.

The Acting Deputy Executive Director in-charge of Technical Services of EPA, Ebenezer K. Appiah-Sampong said his outfit had established 13 new offices to bring the agency’s services to the doorstep of clients.

In addition, he said, the agency is stalling Information Communication Technology facilities to enable clients apply for environmental application online.

Mr Appiah-Sampong disclosed that the EPA was being weaned of government subvention, saying that would enable the agency to recruit more technical staff.

A consultant to BUSAC Fund, Nana Croffie in his remark said the Fund was created to support private sector businesses to address the challenges facing them.

That, he said, was to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.

By Kingsley Asare

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