President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government is hard at work to make South Africa a more competitive destination for investment – by improving the ease of doing business.
“Steadily but surely, we are making South Africa a more competitive destination for investment by reducing the cost, and improving the ease, of doing business,” the president said on Wednesday at the 2nd South Africa Investment Conference, taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
“We have set ourselves the ambition of being in the top 50 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index within the next three years.”
Through the expanding network of Invest SA’s One-Stop Shops, Government is working to remove bureaucratic and administrative hurdles to investment, providing new entrants with a single contact point for licensing and regulatory compliance.
This week, the government launched an integrated online platform for the fast, efficient and inexpensive registration of a company. Known as Biz Portal, this online portal promises to be a game-changer.
Through collaboration among several government agencies and with the involvement of the four major banks, it is now possible for applicants to register their company at the same time as they register for tax, a domain name, a BEE certificate, the Compensation Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and open a business bank account.
“We are aiming for a registration process that can be completed in one day,” the president said.
Detailed work is underway between the government and industry to improve the efficiency of various permitting process, including, for example, the issuing of water use licences.
The president said the government has taken steps to provide greater policy certainty in areas such as mining, oil and gas and telecoms as part of efforts to create a stable environment for investment.
“We have initiated the release of the high-demand broadband spectrum, which will bring down data costs and encourage investment.”
A policy framework has been gazetted and the regulator has published its proposals.
Visa-free nations and e-visas
As part of attracting skilled professionals and growing tourism, the government has prioritised immigration reform and changes to the visa regime.
“More countries have been added to the list of visa-free nations for inward tourism, the requirements on unabridged birth certificates for young tourists have been abolished, and we are piloting a new e-visa portal later this month.”
Through the e-visas, applicants will be able to access visa’s online, eliminating the need for applicants to travel long distances to visit South African missions abroad to acquire visas.
The department has also located visa services within the offices of various investment facilitation agencies around the country.
Visa requirements have been simplified for countries such as China and India, which are key markets for tourism to South Africa.
Recently, the government also waived visas for travellers from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, New Zealand, Cuba, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe.
Smart system for work permits
President Ramaphosa said the government is now working on a smart system for work permits, for scarce skills and to encourage companies to set up their African corporate headquarters in South Africa.
Reducing public spending
As the minister of finance indicated in his medium-term budget policy statement last week, one of South Africa’s central priorities is to return the country to a sustainable fiscal path.
“We are taking several measures to reduce public spending, eliminate wastage and direct resources to where they will have the greatest impact on long-term growth and poverty alleviation,” the president said.