MINISTER of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga says the bureaucracy involved in registering a company has been a major hindrance to most foreign companies wanting to invest in Zambia.
In an interview, Friday, Mulenga said government wanted to limit the number of licenses needed when registering a company so that people could easily set up businesses.
“What has been a major hindrance to most of the foreign companies to invest in Zambia is the bureaucracy involved in registering a company. You will find that they will pay so much money just to register a company license. We want to limit the number of licenses both which Zambians and foreign nationals will have to pay. Others even their capital just dies in the registration process because there are so many licenses. So we want to limit this because we have come to realize as the government that you cannot raise money to run a government through tax collection, through license fees,” he said.
“You need to make the registration process so easy so that these people can go and set up businesses now, businesses which will create revenue, which will create decent jobs and will create decent taxes that go into the national treasury. So that is the reason why we want to limit the number of licenses and the easy way on the cost of doing business. Ultimately, our intention is that we mean well for our Zambian community as much as we attract investment from foreign nationals.”
And Mulenga said his ministry was in the process of revising some legislative documents, businesswise, that would see business partnerships between Zambians and foreign investors.
“What we are doing is that we are trying to revise a number of legislative documents that we have businesswise, such as investment licenses. The business sector that is done by both locals and foreign direct investments. Now as much as we are looking forward to encouraging foreign direct investment, it should not be done at the expense of the Zambian people. We are looking forward to integrating a Zambian business owner into partnerships with foreign direct investors,” he said.
“You can’t run away from the truth that the FDI has got enough capital that most Zambian people do not have access to. The financing sector in Zambia is a little bit more expensive than it is outside the country. So we are working out modalities to see that framework of access to finance by SMEs, and these are big business houses that have easy access to finance locally. But while we are trying to work out the modalities for that, we want those that come with huge capital to see how they can work together with Zambian businessmen and build business partnerships.”
Mulenga said partnerships in business enhanced skill transfer and capital growth for the locals.
“If you see in the past 10, 11 years, there are many companies that opened in Zambia; in the west, east, south, everywhere. But the poverty levels in Zambia increased, entrepreneurship in Zambia died while we saw other companies opening. What is it that we did wrong as a country? We did not allow partnerships. Partnerships enhance skill transfer, capital growth for the locals. As we encourage partnerships, we need to work out a framework that does not discourage the foreign investors because of the partnership, but it should encourage them to invest in Zambia as much as they partner with Zambians,” said Mulenga.