Friday, August 10, 2012

Licensing reform key to ease doing business climate

Licensing reform is key to improving the business and investment climate in a country.
"One of the key priorities of the government should be to improve the 'Doing Business' ranking," said joint secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers and coordinator of the Licensing Reform Task Force under the Nepal Business Forum Mahendra Man Gurung, sharing his experience on the recent 'Study Tour to Malaysia'.
"The government should bring about various reforms to create a favourable business environment for investors," he said, adding that reform initiatives cannot work in isolation as they need strong commitment and support from politicians, bureaucrats and the public. "More importantly, the government should use the media to communicate about relevant reform initiatives to foster a positive business environment."
The Private Sector Development Committee of Nepal Business Forum (NBF) formed the Licensing Reform Task Force in December 2011. The task force includes representatives from the Ministries of Industry, Finance, Law and Justice, Commerce and Supplies, Energy, Environment, National Information and Technology Centre, and Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
The team had visited Malaysia in June to study and learn about international best practices on licence reforms.
Reflecting on the Malaysian system, the head of the delegation who is also the Regional Administrator of Eastern Region Krishna Chandra Poudyal said that Nepal needs a long-term economic model focusing on specific sectors, where its real strengths and opportunities are. "The government should identify the sectors through a detailed study and consultations with stakeholders," he said, adding that the government should concentrate on them with high level political commitment.
"Without private sector investment in the country, faster economic growth cannot be achieved," he added. "The government should create a conducive and positive business environment by facilitating businesses and investors and in return, the private sector should come forward and partner with the government for infrastructure development with cost arrangement and benefit sharing mechanisms."
During the visit, the delegation appreciated the Key Performance Indicators, a tool introduced for all ministers with the aim of measuring and improving the efficiency and quality of government services.
They shared that similar practices should be started in Nepal and that the evaluation of the ministers based on the Key Performance Indicators should be made public to embed public accountability in the public sector.
The delegation also appreciated the introduction of ISO certification for government agencies and its significance in improving the standard of service, the use of mechanisms like One-stop Service and Composite Licensing to reduce bureaucratic entanglement, provision of a cell under direct control of the head of the government regarding the restructuring, reformation and modernisation of different government organs to accelerate efforts to improve civil service capacity, and the comprehensive introduction of ICT in all government agencies which has reduced the burden of paper-work.
Similarly, the Licensing Reform Task Force is working on the Nepal Business Licence e-Portal that will be a one-stop-shop of information for approvals needed to run a business and will be freely accessible through the internet to members of the business community, individuals and organisations.
The National Information Technology Centre, currently hosting the beta-version of the e-portal, will be hosting the final version and will coordinate with all government bodies that issue licences regarding periodic updates of information.
"Reforms in business environment can contribute positively towards achieving socio-economic development and political stability, in addition to attracting foreign investment and enhancing the international perception of a country," said Gurung, adding that Nepal needs to adopt some international standards as a benchmark and implement the reform processes accordingly.

No comments: