Schlettwein Wants Bipa Law Promulgated This Year

The draft bill on establishing the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) is already before the Cabinet Committee on Legislation, said Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein on Friday. He added that everything possible was being done to have the law establishing BIPA promulgated by the end of the current fiscal year.

However, BIPA is already operating with a board, and is implementing some of the reform measures identified in business registration. “Among this is the introduction of a web-based integrated company registration system in the last quarter of 2013, which has made it possible to register a business or reserve a business name online and without having to go to the registration office,” explained Schlettwein. The minister made these remarks when responding to some of the recommendations of a report called “Easing the Way for Investment in Namibia”, that was launched on Friday morning by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Schettwein said that while the operationalization of BIPA may bring about some improvements, it is important to note that the process of registering a business does not only involve government institutions such as BIPA but also private “agents”, attorneys, notaries and auditors.

“As such, the envisaged efficiency gains will only be visible if there are improvements in the entire chain, including the private role players. As a matter of fact, the World Bank Reform Memorandum has recommended the introduction of standardized business incorporation forms, which will reduce or remove the need for attorneys and notaries in the company registration process,” noted Schlettwein. According to Graham Hopwood, Executive Director at the IPPR, “One of the main reasons for Namibia’s decline on the international rankings is that the country has been standing still while other nations have been catching up and overtaking it … Namibia’s problem is implementation.

Policy documents are often commendable but, as the history of the 2005 roadmap indicates, concerted action is often lacking.” Areas where Namibia is ranked to be performing poorly are education and training, health, innovation, research and development. And while the IPPR report also identified “lack of political will” and “lack of coordination”, Schlettwein remarked: “While I agree that there is room for improvement in the way the government conducts its business in some areas, I believe that there is g political will, and that the gains that have been recognised by this and other ranking publications have come about exactly as result of the commitment and drive by government and its institutions and agencies.”

Also speaking at the launch of the IPPR’s report, British High Commissioner to Namibia, Marianne Young, said the report aims to help reduce obstacles to investment and bring about improved conditions for British and all foreign businesses to invest in Namibia. “The report provides a breakdown of some of the factors that inhibit foreign investment and suggestions for remedial action to be taken. I hope these recommendations will help generate some good discussions between the business community and government representatives,” said Young.

The IPPR report also recommends making a single window approach a reality, which the institutions says will go a long way towards dealing with delays in the registration of businesses and investment activities. Other recommendations include finalizing and introducing the new Investment Bill, making monitoring, evaluation, and performance management a reality, undertaking a nationwide skills audit and ending the mismatch between the education system and job market. When launching the report Schlettwein agreed with most of the recommendations and re-affirmed the government’s position about the important role of the private sector as the engine of growth and an important partner in national economic development.

“We equally recognize the need for effective public-private dialogue and partnerships not only to create a conducive environment for business to operate and flourish, but equally to ensure that the resultant growth translates into jobs and other positive outcomes as envisaged in our growth at home strategy and NDP4 roadmap. We will thus continue to explore and introduce reforms and invest in public infrastructure that are necessary to ensure and improve the ease of doing business in our country,” said Schlettwein. By Edgar Brandt

Source : New Era