CompAny rEGIstrAtIon wEBsItE GoEs oFflInE
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.