Zambian Business Times

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


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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zambia