Update on the Working Groups – 2011 PDF Print E-mail

Update on the Working Groups – 2011

Business Start-Up and Registration

Under the ICF-funded Modernisation of Office of Administrator & Registrar General (OARG), the renovation of the office of the Administrator and Registrar General has been completed. New regional offices in Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Kono have been leased, networked and due to start operations in 2012. These offices, when functional would save the time and cost of registering businesses and other activities outside Freetown.

Full implementation of the new business registration processes is in progress at the OARG and a new consolidated registration form has been developed.

Another ongoing reform at the OARG is the automation of records so as to facilitate easy access by users including name searches for companies and other legal documents. The data capturing process of registered businesses (sole proprietorships) between 2006 and 2010 has been completed while that of companies for the past three years has also been completed.

The process of merging tax and business registration numbers is under discussion and the development and final customization of the OARG’s website is in progress. Advertisements highlighting these new developments at the OARG were carried out in selected media houses during the last quarter of 2011.

In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2012 Report, in terms of its ease of doing business, Sierra Leone climbed 9(nine) spots to 141 (from 150 in 2011) out of the 183 economies surveyed reflecting the fact that the country, like others in Sub-Saharan Africa has made its regulatory environment more business-friendly.

Financial Sector Reform

Implementation of the Financial Sector Development Plan (FSDP) 2009 by the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) is in progress. The objective of the FSDP is “to provide a framework for creating a sound, diversified, responsive and well-functioning financial system that would provide appropriate support to productive activities, thereby contributing to economic growth and poverty alleviation”. The Plan aims to ensure that the financial sector delivers faster growth to the private sector through enhanced access to financial services; and to build financial sector reform and oversight capacity of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL). In addition to the Governor, BSL acting as Chairman of the FSDP Secretariat located at BSL, a high level Financial Sector Consultative Forum and a Financial Sector Steering Committee (FSSC) have also been established to inter alia monitor and review the activities and implementation of the FSDP. The SLBF is a member of the FSSC.  Another reform undertaken by the BSL in 2011 was the enactment of the Credit Reference Act 2011 in April 2011 that provides for the
establishment of a Credit Reference Bureau at the Bank of Sierra Leone to obtain, maintain and provide credit information in accordance with the Act. This Act makes it mandatory for all financial institutions to request for a credit report from Bank of Sierra Leone prior to granting credit facilities to customers. The enactment of this Act which provides for the creation of a public credit registry at the Central Bank was acknowledged as a significant reform by Sierra Leone in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2012 Report. Other significant legislative reforms were undertaken by BSL in 2011.

Tax and Customs Working Group

* In 2011, several meetings were held and chaired by the Private  Sector Champion. Most of the meetings held discussed issues affecting the  business community such as the impact of fees/charges levied by Freetown  city Council on businesses.  

    * Kick- started radio discussion programmes on various tax issues. 

* Followed-up on streamlining tax/customs payments through  commercial banks. This process is expected to speed up clearing of goods  at the customs port. 

    Constraints of the TCWG in 2011

* Negligence of key stakeholders/members in attending meetings  that relate to their institutions.

Challenges of the TCWG for 2012

* Increasing the awareness of tax issues within the private sector.

Land Administration and Reform

In April 2011 the replacement consultant of the ICF-funded Land Registration Project in the Western Area of Sierra Leone commenced work and subsequently produced his interim report for the steering committee. As a member of the Project’s Steering Committee, the SLBF attended all meetings of the steering committee in 2011 which inter alia addressed the project’s activities.

* In furtherance of the reform process through the digitalization and automation of the Lands Surveys Department of the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and Environment, the existing Surveys Act CAP 128 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960 was amended in March 2011 to allow for the use of GPS in land survey practice and for the release of much-needed funds by the ICF for the continued implementation of the first phase of the project.

    * The differential GPS equipment has been obtained under the project. This equipment is more accurate but more expensive than handheld devices and will facilitate the creation of an updated cadastral map for the western area under phase two of the project.

* The Freetown survey maps have been digitized but need to be updated using satellite images, with funding provided by the ICF project.

* Another important step was the adoption of the Manual of Procedures for land acquisition in the Western Area in May 2010.

* These improvements in the registering property indicator of Doing Business should have an impact in the medium rather than short term.

Trade Facilitation

* During the first half of 2011 meetings of the Trade Facilitation working group were held at SLBF to finalise the process maps for importers and exporters which clearly indicate the various steps involved to import and export goods through the ports. Following finalisation of the process maps, the SLBF printed posters and booklets of the said maps which were subsequently distributed to key stakeholders involved with trade facilitation.

    * The implementation of ASYCUDA by the NRA in May 2010 to electronically process documents related to customs clearance procedures was counted as a significant reform by Sierra Leone in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2012 report.

* The number of agencies involved in the clearing process has been reduced.

    * The Destination Inspection and Scanning Contract with INTERTEK International has expired and the process of contracting a replacement is in progress. 

 * Following the privatisation of port container services by the government through a 20 year concession to a foreign firm Bollore´ Africa Logistics, improved loading and offloading equipment is now in place at the port, documentation streamlined, and there are quicker turnaround times for ships. 

    * Clearance times and costs have been reduced at the ports in order to facilitate trade and promote
    investment in the country.

Agribusiness Working Group (AWG)

    * Organized a one-day seminar on the role of agribusiness in  private sector development.

    * Started discussions on how to improve farmers’ technical  capacities and business skills through workshops.

    * Held Several meetings on ways of promoting agribusiness in Sierra Leone

    Constraints of AWG in 2011

    * Negligence of key stakeholders/members in attending meetings  that relate to their institutions.