Cur­rent Govt pol­icy U-turns avoid­able - BRRA...

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The Busi­ness Reg­u­la­tory Re­view Agency (BRRA) Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer - CEO Sharon Sichi­longo, whose agency has...

The Busi­ness Reg­u­la­tory Re­view Agency (BRRA) Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer - CEO Sharon Sichi­longo, whose agency has a statu­tory man­date to re­view and ap­prove pro­posed reg­u­la­tory frame­works has called for all pol­icy or reg­u­la­tory frame­work reg­u­lat­ing busi­ness ac­tiv­ity to only be sub­mit­ted to cab­i­net for ap­proval af­ter her agency’s prior re­view and ap­proval.

The Zam­bian cab­i­net has been sub­jected to hu­mil­i­a­tion on a cou­ple of pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory U-turns. This is af­ter some key poli­cies af­fect­ing busi­nesses and the over­all econ­omy that had not been sub­jected to pro­fes­sional and wide con­sul­ta­tion had been ap­proved by cab­i­net but later struck down due to among other rea­sons eco­nomic com­pat­i­bil­ity, the gen­eral pub­lic out­cry and at times for lack of syn­chro­niza­tion with other ex­ist­ing laws.

Some of the more re­cent em­bar­rass­ing pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory re­ver­sals in­clude the re­ver­sal of the ban on im­por­ta­tion of fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, the U-turn in ban­ning of med­i­cal per­son­nel work­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously for both gov­ern­ment and pri­vate hos­pi­tals, the re­ver­sal of the eco­nom­i­cally shock­ing higher min­eral roy­alty tax rates from about 16% to cur­rent lev­els of about 6% and re­ver­sal of a statu­tory in­stru­ment re­quir­ing the repa­tri­a­tion of ex­port cash pro­ceeds back to the Zam­bia econ­omy to men­tion a few.

Speak­ing to the Zam­bian Busi­ness Times - ZBT in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, Sichi­longo stated that all pub­lic and pri­vate bod­ies propos­ing new or amend­ments of na­tional or gov­ern­ment pol­icy or reg­u­la­tion frame­works must first un­der­take a Reg­u­la­tory Im­pact As­sess­ment (RIA) and sub­mit a RIA Re­port to BRRA for Ap­proval. This was in re­sponse to a ques­tion by ZBT on what her or­ga­ni­za­tion is do­ing on the cur­rent state were reg­u­la­tion and gov­ern­ment poli­cies are be­ing an­nounced as ap­proved and later re­versed af­ter pub­lic out­rage.

Sichi­longo stated that “a pro­posed pol­icy or reg­u­la­tory frame­work shall only be ap­proved if it, has been sub­jected to a reg­u­la­tory im­pact as­sess­ment in ac­cor­dance with the reg­u­la­tions and guide­lines is­sued un­der the Act; No. 3 of 2014,” She fur­ther said that, her agency has been re­quest­ing all pub­lic bod­ies to ad­here to these pro­vi­sions as man­dated by the law. The Act also re­quires that all pub­lic bod­ies give no­tice in writ­ing to BRRA at least two months be­fore sub­mit­ting to Cab­i­net any pro­posed law or pol­icy that af­fects busi­ness. BRRA has been en­gag­ing reg­u­la­tors on the im­por­tance of un­der­tak­ing reg­u­la­tory im­pact as­sess­ments as well as con­sul­ta­tions with all stake­hold­ers.

When fur­ther asked to state what her role and her agency will be do­ing go­ing for­ward about these pol­icy U-turns, Sichi­longo said BRRA will con­tinue to im­ple­ment sen­si­ti­sa­tion pro­grammes on the im­por­tance of RIA as well as ar­range for ca­pac­ity build­ing pro­grammes in RIA for pub­lic bod­ies. She cited that the Act fo­cuses on laws and poli­cies that are aimed at reg­u­lat­ing busi­ness ac­tiv­ity, "BRRA is man­dated to re­view all poli­cies and laws that af­fect busi­ness with spe­cific fo­cus on li­cences, per­mits, cer­tifi­cates, levies, fees and au­tho­ri­sa­tions. The Act how­ever ex­cludes pro­fes­sional bod­ies and any pub­lic body that gen­er­ates rev­enue". She said that the later pro­vi­sion im­plies that rev­enue in­tended for the na­tional trea­sury may be ex­cluded.

She also said that there is need for more sen­si­ti­sa­tion of reg­u­la­tory agen­cies on the pro­vi­sions of the Act. Reg­u­la­tory Agen­cies in­tend­ing to in­tro­duce or re­view reg­u­la­tory frame­works must al­low for con­duct­ing of an im­pact as­sess­ment as un­der­tak­ing of RIA is a re­quire­ment by law and this law is com­pli­men­tary to all other laws. Reg­u­la­tory agen­cies need to un­der­stand that as they op­er­ate un­der their var­i­ous re­spec­tive pieces of leg­is­la­tion, they must also com­ply with the pro­vi­sions of the Busi­ness Reg­u­la­tory Act.

“Our man­date comes from the Busi­ness Reg­u­la­tory Act, No. 3 of 2014. There­fore, the role of BRRA , fo­cuses on reg­u­la­tory frame­works such as li­cences, per­mits, cer­tifi­cates, levies, fees and au­tho­ri­sa­tions ” she nar­rated. She said BRRA in­tend to con­trib­ute to reg­u­la­tory U-turns end­ing in Zam­bia, through pro­mot­ing RIA. BRRA is con­tribut­ing to bet­ter reg­u­la­tion of busi­nesses as the RIA al­lows reg­u­la­tors the op­por­tu­nity to as­sess the im­pact of pro­posed reg­u­la­tory frame­works be­fore they are im­ple­mented. RIA al­lows for con­sid­er­a­tion of var­i­ous op­tions to tackle var­i­ous chal­lenges as well as for con­sul­ta­tions with stake­hold­ers so that the best op­tion, which de­liv­ers the max­i­mum ben­e­fit at min­i­mum cost to busi­nesses, can be se­lected.

The Busi­ness Reg­u­la­tory Re­view Agency (BRRA) was es­tab­lished un­der the Busi­ness Reg­u­la­tory Act No. 3 of 2014 as an out­come of the Pri­vate Sec­tor De­vel­op­ment Re­forms. The re­forms were aimed at re­duc­ing the cost of do­ing busi­ness and cre­at­ing a con­ducive busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment that pro­motes pri­vate sec­tor growth. The Act in­tro­duces a set of prin­ci­ples, pro­ce­dures and min­i­mum re­quire­ments for the in­tro­duc­tion of reg­u­la­tory mea­sures. The ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive of the Act is to im­prove the qual­ity of reg­u­la­tion and lessen the reg­u­la­tory bur­den on busi­nesses.

The man­date of the Agency is to re­view and ap­prove pro­posed reg­u­la­tory frame­works that have an im­pact on busi­ness ac­tiv­ity and pro­vide in­ter­ven­tions aimed at pro­mot­ing a con­ducive busi­ness reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment. Some of the key func­tions of the agency in­clude re­view­ing and ap­prov­ing pro­posed reg­u­la­tory frame­works; man­ag­ing the e-reg­istry of poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions; De­vel­op­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing guide­lines and stan­dards for reg­u­la­tors to un­der­take RIAs and pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions.

The other func­tions in­clude mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­at­ing the busi­ness reg­u­la­tory frame­work in the var­i­ous sec­tors; build­ing ca­pac­ity and pro­vi­sion of tech­ni­cal sup­port to reg­u­la­tory agen­cies on the pro­vi­sion of reg­u­la­tory ser­vices (terms and con­di­tions of is­su­ing li­censes, cer­tifi­cates, per­mits or au­tho­ri­sa­tion) in con­form­ity to the Act; fa­cil­i­tat­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ac­tion plans de­signed by the Com­mit­tee on reg­u­la­tory ser­vice cen­tres and sin­gle li­cens­ing sys­tem and over­see­ing reg­u­la­tory ser­vice cen­tres.

Zam­bia still has a long way to en­sure reg­u­la­tory re­forms and smooth op­er­a­tions of all gov­ern­ment min­istries and agen­cies are aligned. Most of the mishaps we see to­day are not as a re­sult of lack of reg­u­la­tory pro­vi­sions or laws, but lack of im­ple­men­ta­tion of ex­ist­ing laws, reg­u­la­tions and poli­cies. The need for an ef­fi­cient gov­ern­ment sys­tem can­not be overem­pha­sized. An ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive pub­lic sec­tor is key to na­tional de­vel­op­ment as the gov­ern­ment is the cus­to­dian of the na­tional trea­sury, which if ef­fi­ciently ex­e­cuted, would lead to al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources to the most pro­duc­tive sec­tors that would spur a more ag­gres­sive Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct - GDP, eco­nomic and so­cial growth rates.

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