ZIA to digitalise one stop shop investment centre

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THE Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) is set to launch the digital One Stop Shop Investment Centre (OSS) in a bid to increase efficiency on investors’ application process and communication with other government departments.
The investment One Stop Shop that was launched in 2010 has greatly reduced time taken by investors to get licensed from around 49 days to five.
However, the system is not fully operational as government departments have seconded officers to the OSS who do not have decision making powers to issue licences, but only facilitate the process.
In an interview with The Patriot, ZIA chief executive officer, Richard Mbaiwa said the digitalisation of the investment centre would ease delays between investors and other government departments in seeking approval of their projects.
He said the digitalisation process is in keeping with the e-government concept, adding that the authority will work closely with government departments involved in the one stop shop.
“A team of consultants is already mapping out modalities of setting up the electronic platform for the ZIA one stop shop,” he said. 
“The virtual investment centre will pave way for investors to apply for licences from ZIA and government departments online and fulfil other requirements such as applications for working permits.
“All departments will be linked on a virtual network and the moment we issue an investment licence, other departments will know that a company has been registered.” 
Mbaiwa said the current physical system was failing to boost its efficiency to reduce the expected short waiting period as most government officers who were stationed at the investment OSS were not fully empowered to make certain decisions.
He said most officers representing various government departments at ZIA had to refer back to their superiors, a process that was delaying the registration of investors.
“ZIA is still facing challenges in the approval of investment projects due to poor coordination with other government departments,” he said.
“Other government institutions are coming to support the current One Stop Shop investment centre and others are not coming.
“Most of the officers representing different government departments are not in a position to make other decisions, a situation that further increases the time frame on the issuing of licenses and permits for investors.”
“The system will speed up processes by creating a central business database that would enable all government authorities that are required in the approval of investment projects to link electronically.”
Mbaiwa said there was a significant increase in the interest of foreign investors to start operations in the country in August 2014 as compared to the same period last year.
He said the major source of investment has remained high from the Eastern countries such as China and India.
“During the first half of this year, we have approved investment projects worth over US$750 million as compared to at least US$200 million recorded the same period last year,” he said.
“We believe that we will see an equal opportunity in the implementation of these projects as some of the projects that were approved in previous years have not yet been operationalised.”
The ZIA said most of the investments were coming from the mining sector that has covered 70 percent of the approved projects.
“There was a great improvement in the increase of investment in other sectors of the economy that has attracted few investors in the past years such as infrastructure development which is beginning to take some space,” he said.
“Investment in the manufacturing sector is also increasing especially in the medium size projects that are focusing on value addition.”
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) one of the key partners for the OSS investment centre has started piloting a new digital filing system for its tax clearance system.
Speaking at the ‘Doing Business Reform Strategy’ workshop, ZIMRA director of finance corporate planning and modernisation, Robert Mangwiro said the pilot project had proved viable and worth implementing.
“We have already procured the requisite software for the e-filing system and the project is expected to start next month,” he said.
“We now want our clients to conduct their tax clearance transaction in the comfort of their offices and also to reduce delays in the process.”
The piloting e-filing system is covering only 20 companies and is limited to filing of corporate tax some provisional tax returns.
The system is also expected to cover other taxes such as the Values Added Tax and the Pay As You Earn.

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