One-stop shop investment concept stalls

HARARE - Government's one-stop shop investment concept is yet to be implemented due to lack of enabling legislation and framework.

Zimbabwe launched the one stop shop in 2010, with focus not only on boosting foreign direct investment, but to also to improve the ease of doing business in the country, for instance registration and acquisition of necessary documentation or licences.

It was taking about 96 days to process a potential investor’s business application, but government sought to reduce it to five days after implementing the one stop shop concept.

It also aimed at promoting domestic investment through facilitating partnerships and joint ventures between foreign and domestic investors or between locals.

Richard Mbaiwa, ZIA chief executive, said since the launch of the one stop shop concept by President Robert Mugabe almost four years ago, a comprehensive legal framework is yet to be put in place.

“What we sought to do was to put a legal framework under the ZIA Act to actually make the one stop shop a legal facility,” he told delegates at a Doing Business Strategy meeting last Wednesday.

“That process is still being done through the relevant structures so that various institutions will be obliged to come under one roof and to process within a specified time frame,” he said.

This comes as Zimbabwe still lacks comprehensive policies that govern the registration and operation of foreign firms.

In July, Mbaiwa told Foreign Affairs parliamentary portfolio committee that government must formulate policies that compel registration of start-up businesses.

He said there was “need to relook at various pieces of legislation and come up with a comprehensive framework in order for the investment promotion body to fulfil its mandate”.

“Currently, there is no legal requirement for a foreign investor to get an investment licence from ZIA,” he said, adding that “if they don’t want they can actually go ahead and establish a business without coming to ZIA.

He said the initiative to create a one-stop investment shop is failing to take off due to the uncoordinated legislation.

“So you find that whilst we said we want to commit to deal with investment licences within five working days, investors still have to go to a number of other agencies to get different types of permits and they have got their processes that are guided by their own legal frameworks and it (licencing) might take many days to happen,” said Mbaiwa.

He added that there was a need to expeditiously harmonise and streamline those various legal frameworks.

“We have studied other countries which have established omnibus legislation which actually puts together all the institutions and give them time frames for dealing with issues of investment permits and licences,” he said.

The one-stop shop investment centre is a means to facilitate investment, streamline and simplify business set-up processes, such as company registration, immigration permits, taxation and customs clearance issues.

It can also be a platform to access to office space, access to utilities such as water, electricity and telecommunication facilities and any other requirements of investors, so as to cut on the time and costs associated with doing business in Zimbabwe.

Several ministries and various authoritative bodies that include local government, economic investment, indigenisation and economic empowerment among others are envisaged to be under the same roof.

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