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Burundi's first Vice President launches doing business in the East African Community 2012 report / Secretary General says the Community was moving towards being truly people-centered

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, April 11, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- H.E. First Vice President of the Republic of Burundi Therence Sinunguruza today launched the 3rd Edition of Doing Business in the East African Community 2012 Report at the Source du Nil Hotel in Bujumbura, Burundi with a call to the EAC Partner States to collectively engage in creating conducive environment for creating and growth of businesses and the private sector in the bloc.

H.E. Sinunguruza noted that Doing Business Reports series were an indicator and encouragement to the government of Burundi to improve on the business climate in the country. He said the country was aiming at continuously improving the business environment with the purpose of achieving a two-digit position rather than the current three-digit (169th ) as indicated in the Report. The Vice President highlighted some of the few milestones that the country had attained that includes setting up the Burundi Revenue Authority, the promotion and facilitation of investment, and several other reforms aimed at changing the business environment.

Doing Business in the East African Community Report 2012 is a regional report drawing on the global Doing Business project and it presents quantitative indicators on business regulation and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 183 economies over time.

At the function, the Hon. Minister of Trade, Industry, Posts and Tourism, Mrs Victoire Ndikumana re-affirmed Burundi's commitment to improve business climate in the overall context of the EAC regional integration. She said Burundi was undergoing several reforms geared towards improving the lives of its citizens as well as making the country relevant to the Community.

At the launch, the Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera congratulated the International Finance Corporation and Trade Mark East Africa for publishing of the 3rd edition of the report.

He said the current surge in interest and appetite by the East African citizens to critically analyze different elements of the integration process across the East Africa was a clear indication that the Community was moving towards being truly people-centered as required by the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.

The Secretary General noted that globalization had necessitated political repositioning and a rethinking of development cooperation and in order not to be left out, the Community had embarked on an accelerated process of integration in order to expand opportunities and uplift the living standards of its citizens, in a way that no single Partner State would have done individually.

Amb. Sezibera noted that the data from the Reports would be utilized in setting up and focusing the Community's yearly priorities towards enabling the private sector work as an engine of growth, as a creator of employment, and as an innovator for change. “I am confident that combined, these reports we have launched this first quarter when analyzed together give us a complete analysis of quantitative indicators on business regulation and the protection of property rights that will inspire our governments to surely reform” assured Amb. Sezibera.

The Secretary General reiterated that his primary objective and commitment was to work with Partner States to improve the business environment and believed that business regulation should exist only to ensure public safety and fair competition but not to stifle legitimate businesses. “That's why the Doing Business in the East African Community report, is an important tool to constantly remind us that business regulation shouldn't negatively affect the ease of doing business”.

Commenting on the Report, Amb. Sezibera noted that it was clear that investment climate and regional integration go hand-in-hand in East Africa and that although each EAC Partner State had adopted positive reforms in the year under review, totalling 10 reforms and representing an increase of 25% from the previous year – higher than the global average of 13% over the same period, the region still rank relatively low in the ease of doing business index. “In fact, we averaged 115th of 183 economies this year.

”While this may seem discouraging, the report goes ahead to make an interesting finding that as region if we adopted the best practices in our Partner States for each Doing Business indicator, we would be ranked 19th position globally, equal to Germany. There are powerful lessons to be drawn from this”, asserted Amb. Sezibera.

He said Doing Business Indicators were an important, but limited, barometer for the business climate and wider action across other investment climate areas need to be undertaken for a comprehensive and sustainable improvement in the business climate.

Amb. Sezibera affirmed that on the operations front, many of the essential ingredients for a globally competitive business climate were already in place within the bloc. He said each Partner State had individually excelled in initiating and sustaining reform measures. For example Rwanda ranks 8th globally in the starting a business indicator, Kenya is 8th in the getting credit indicator, while Burundi was one of the most active economies globally in implementing reforms in the year under review, with 4 reforms across different areas of measurement. And though still low, to start a business in EAC now requires 10 procedures and costs an average of 55% of income per capita – compared to 12 procedures and a cost of 140% of income per capita 7 years ago.

The Secretary General reiterated that the region will only be globally competitive if it intensifies peer learning. “We should realize that different EAC countries are good at different Doing Business indicators. Through learning from each other's best practices, we shall be able to accelerate the necessary reforms to improve the business climate”.

The Secretary General expressed the need for the region to inject a sense of urgency in accelerating reforms in business taxation, harmonizing commercial laws, building the foundations for an EAC e-registry, strengthening the quality and cost-effectiveness of the regulatory proposals and procedures, and supporting the implementation of the Common Market Protocol, through the publication of a Common Market Scorecard.

The Chair of the East African Business Council, Hon. Gerald Ssendaula urged the governments in the region to put more resources to address critical issues impacting doing business such as poor infrastructure, inadequate power/energy, and reduce on politics at the entry/exit points.

The event was attended by, among others, Hon Ministers, Dr Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Manager for Burundi, Permanent Secretaries, Mr. Peter Ladegaard, Head, Investment Climate, Eastern and Southern Africa, World Bank Group, Mr David Stanton, Deputy Executive Director, TradeMark East Africa, and Coordinator, EAC Investment Climate Program, World Bank Group, Mr. Alfred K'Ombudo.

The launching of Doing Business in the East African Community Report 2012 follows the Launch of The State Of East Africa Report 2012 themed 'Deepening Integration, Intensifying Challenge '.on 4 April 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya by Amb. Sezibera. Later in the month, the East African Climate Index Report will also be launched.