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Business News of Thursday, 22 October 2015

Source: B&FT

PEF demands reform in 6 public firms

Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of Private Enterprise FederationNana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of Private Enterprise Federation

The Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) is demanding reforms in six key public institutions which when accomplished, the Federation believes, will help ease doing business in the country.

According to the private sector advocacy body, processes involved in securing what they called "cross sectorial" licences and permits, which are licencing requirements that affect almost every business registration regardless of the sector of operations, need to be streamlined to boost business operations.

PEF reached the decision to recommend the reforms after an 18-month study into the processes that businesses have to go through to undertake an activity identified that bottlenecks in the operations of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ghana National Fire & Rescue Service, Town and Country Planning, MMDAs, and the Factories Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Labour and Employment provide barriers to doing business in the country.

The research noted that there are at least 145 permits, certificates and licencing requirements across various sectors of the Ghanaian business landscape.

It said out of the 145 permits and licences required prior to the start of business operations in Ghana, six apply to all businesses regardless of their sector of operation.

The CEO of PEF, Nana Osei Bonsu, explained that the Federation is bent on getting the necessary reforms achieved as delays caused in acquiring these licences and permits add to the cost of doing business.

"One would have assumed that obtaining these licences would just be straight -orward without much constraints. But they are most cumbersome in the sense that the agencies which are to administer these services do not have the capacity with regard to human resources, training facilities, and financial resources to enable them to do their work.

"So talking to them, we have realised that they also need help to administer their responsibilities. We have realised that for the private sector to be efficient, they have to be efficient also -- because any form of deficiency means that the private sector operator has to wait in line, and that causes delay in doing a particular business.

"Shockingly, in our research we found that a greater part of the public are not even aware of some of the licencing requirements and only get to know at the eleventh hour. And then the business will think it's a walk-in, walk-out only to find out that they may have to wait for about a year when the business have already incurred some cost.

"So it will be helpful if we can find out and execute the best way of reforming the standards, procedures and setting fees; this would go a long way to helping the private sector," he explained.

Among the reforms that PEF wants to be carried out at the six public institutions are included decentralising the licencing and certification processes; strengthening their operational and technical capabilities; hiring additional staff, and also providing them with adequate resources.

He said the private sector is willing to pay additional fees if services improve, but they will have to first go through the reformation processes.

Nana Osei Bonsu said to help streamline the processes involved in acquiring the various permits, the Federation organised a series of stakeholder meetings and workshops for both private sector business operators and the public sector which culminated in an agreement for the proposed solutions to aim at making the application processes very efficient.