Com­pAny rEG­Is­trA­tIon wEB­sItE GoEs oFf­lInE

Sunday Express - - EXPRESS BUSINESS - Retha­bile Pitso

THE One-Stop Busi­ness Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre (OBFC), which was in­tro­duced in last year to help im­prove do­ing busi­ness in Le­sotho, is not ac­ces­si­ble due to tech­ni­cal glitches, the Deputy Reg­is­trar of Com­pa­nies Mon­a­heng Mon­a­heng has said.

Mr Mon­a­heng said the on­line ser­vice, that was launched by the Min­istry of Trade and In­dus­try, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing (MTICM) with the aim of speed­ing up the reg­is­tra­tion of new com­pa­nies, has been marred by tech­ni­cal prob­lems ren­der­ing it in­ac­ces­si­ble.

The fa­cil­ity was also meant to re­duce the bu­reau­cracy and lengthy queues that come with the reg­is­ter­ing of new com­pa­nies at the OBFC of­fices.

It was launched in con­junc­tion with the New Zealand gov­ern­ment which fa­cil­i­tated train­ing for staff mem­bers in the min­istry and in­jected M5 mil­lion into the project.

“The OBFC of­fice was only meant to al­low phys­i­cal ac­cess to users who are con­duct­ing trans­ac­tions and with queries, but be­cause of prob­lems ex­pe­ri­enced with the sys­tem, that ob­jec­tive had not been re­al­ized,” Mr Mon­a­heng said.

“We are experiencing a big chal­lenge at the of­fices with large num­bers of peo­ple who turn up for ser­vices in­clud­ing that of reg­is­ter­ing a com­pany as well as mak­ing the nec­es­sary pay­ments for the process de­spite the fact that we have been en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to reg­is­ter on­line.”

At the time of the launch, 23 100 com­pa­nies had al­ready been trans­ferred onto the OBFC web­site which en­abled users to view com­pany pro­files as well as al­low for- eign in­vestors to reg­is­ter while still in their home coun­tries.

Mr Mon­a­heng, how­ever, ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that since the launch of the pro­gramme, only about 600 com­pa­nies had since been reg­is­tered.

“The on­line pro­gramme was meant to of­fer a ser­vice which could be ac­cessed both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally to in­clude the po­ten­tial busi­ness peo­ple who have an in­ter­est to in­vest in the coun­try, but so far, only 675 com­pa­nies of both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ori­gin have been reg­is­tered,” he said.

“The other prob­lem we have re­alised is that of Le­sotho’s pay­ment meth­ods which, at times, do not ac­cept pay­ments through credit cards. We, there­fore, at­tribute the re­luc­tance to reg­is­ter by for­eign in­vestors to our non-con­form­ity to credit cards.

“Most of the for­eign in­vestors have had to re­sort to em­ploy­ing lo­cal agents who can reg­is­ter on their be­half.”

“We still have peo­ple com­ing from places as far as Qacha and Mokhot­long to reg­is­ter be­cause they have been experiencing prob­lems with the sys­tem which is not func­tion­ing to its in­tended pur­pose.

“The reg­is­tra­tion process was meant to take about one hour, but with the sys­tem dys­func­tion, we are now back to square one with peo­ple fail­ing to reg­is­ter for many days or fail­ing out­rightly.

Mr Mon­a­heng added that the min­istry had since held a meet­ing with its part­ner Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity (LRA) last week to try to re­solve the prob­lems.

He said some of the tech­ni­cal prob­lems ex­pe­ri­enced were due to the LRA’s at­tempt to up­grade its data­base onto the OBFC sys­tem to en­able the reg­is­tra­tion process to run con­cur­rently with tax­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­istry, the LRA was to be al­lo­cated a page on the web­site where the author­ity would con­trol tax pay­ments si­mul­ta­ne­ously with a com­pany reg­is­tra­tion.

The LRA would then be able to ex­tract a com­pany’s in­for­ma­tion through an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber to en­force the due tax upon com­ple­tion of the reg­is­tra­tion.

Mr Mon­a­heng said fol­low­ing the res­o­lu­tions, the min­istry would em­bark on var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties to en­tice the public to ac­cess the on­line ser­vice in­stead of com­ing phys­i­cally to the of­fices in or­der to re­duce traf­fic.

He said the min­istry was still con­tem­plat­ing many ways to pro­mote on­line reg­is­tra­tion such as of­fer­ing dis­counts to peo­ple who opted to reg­is­ter on­line.

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