Local investors weep over licensing regime

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    Prospective business owners in the country are lamenting over Ghana’s licensing regime, describing it as a deterrent to young and local investors who wish to commence small scale enterprises.

    Presently, there are over 145 permits required by various state owned institutions before local investors are allowed to commence operations in the country.

    Speaking to the Business Day in an interview, the Chief Executive Officer of the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) Nana Osei Bonsu explained that the bottlenecks and lack of co-ordination in the current licensing regime has led to the breeding of massive corruption, demoralizing local investors from setting up enterprises.

    “This is obviously a disincentive to start-up businesses and we have complains from many businesses, rolling back after going through the licensing procedure mid-way due to the frustrations” he said.

    Mr. Bonsu stated that identifying all 145 permit requirements is a major challenge to prospective business operators who upon completion of a step in the procedure are reminded to go back to fulfill other requirements.

    He stated for example that all applications made to the Town and Country Planning Department are most often met with clumsy procedures which are often due to lack of harmonization.

    “The effect is that by the time you get to the next level of your licensing, another state organization will demand a particular document from the Town and Country Planning which was not provided”, he said.

    According to him, the foundation has conducted a research, engaging all stakeholders in the licensing regime; and categorizing the 145 license requirement into a six bullet cross-sectorial recommendation to improve the system.

    The major sectors include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the MMDA’s and the Factories Inspectorate Department under the Ministry of employment and Social Welfare.

    Recommendations to Town and Country Planning Department
    Among other recommendations, the foundation demanded a repeal or amendment of Cap 84 of 1945 to permit the Town and Country Planning Department to retain all or a greater percentage of user fees and charges paid by applicants to aid them in their operations.

    “We do not understand why the TCPD will always complain of lack of logistics to do their work when we pay them huge amounts as fees. We think a substantial part of the fund should be made available to them to help them operate effectively” he suggested.

    Mr. Bonsu maintained that the pertinent challenges facing the department in the area of understaff, lack of electronic procedures and delays due to involvement of MCEs and DCEs could be averted if enough funds are voted for the department to make it autonomous.

    “The recommendation here is to cut down on the discretionary powers of MCEs and DCEs when it comes to approval of applicants”, he said adding that the move will enable the department to generate income to educate the public on the needs to register and pay fees for national development.

    Some recommendations to the EPA
    On the operations of the EPA, Mr. Bonsu stated that the foundation has requested the agency to open more offices at the regional and district levels to facilitate the approval of applications.

    “The total staff strength of the EPA in the year 2011 was 4,000 and this is woefully inadequate; under ideal circumstances each district office should have at least fifteen officers— eight of whom should be technically inclined , he said.

    He suggested that the EPA needs to design a development strategy to move it from being heavily reliant on government budgetary allocations to a self-sustaining entity.

    Some recommendations to GNFS & Factories Inspectorate
    Touching on the GNFS and Department of Factories inspectorate, Mr. Bonsu identified inadequate logistics, understaffing and lack of public education as the main challenges.

    The foundation advocated for a retention of all internally generated fund to allow the agencies acquire the basic logistics they require to make their operations effective.

    He further stated that it is imperative for state owned institutions to computerize all their activities to reduce the bureaucracies involve in registering a company.

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