Botswana has slid 11 spots down the ease of doing business rankings with the relatively slower pace of reform implementation largely to blame for this slip. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report released yesterday, under the theme ‘reforming to create jobs, shows that Botswana dropped from position 71 last year to 81 out of 190 countries despite the country’s score increasing slightly from 64.87 to 64.94 points.
The Doing Business report captures several important dimensions of the regulatory environment as it applies to local firms while providing quantitative indicators on regulation. The regulation indicators range from starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Doing Business also measures features of the labour market regulation.
Botswana’s fall in rankings comes despite the country making two significant reforms, which made doing business easier in the year, suggesting that other countries could have implemented more and better reforms in the period under review.
According to the 2018 report, Botswana made paying taxes easier by establishing an online system for filing and paying taxes. In the period, trading across borders was also made easier by implementing a new automated customs data management system. In January 2017, the Botswana Revenue Service (BURS) introduced a new customs management system that facilitated trade through the establishment of a single window interface as well as reduce leakages in the collection of customs, taxes and levies.
On the downside, however, Botswana registered one reform that made doing business more difficult with the registration of property now seen to be more difficult due to a switch by the Registrar of Deeds to digital records from manual. “Botswana made registering property more difficult by reducing the efficiency of its Registrar of Deeds as it implements the computerisation of manual records,” read the report.
Two years ago, government launched a doing business reform and implementation plan, which was aimed at reinforcing reforms that government has been implementing since 2011. Some of the reforms targeted in the roadmap include decoupling construction permit procedures from tax issues, reducing the number of documents required and period taken to apply fort export and import permits.
Furthermore, the roadmap sought to limit the number of licences to only those areas related to public health and safety. The World Bank’s Doing Business project, launched in 2002, looks at domestic small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle. In Africa, Mauritius is the highest ranked nation in the 2018 report followed by Rwanda and Kenya with Botswana ranked the fourth highest on the continent, one notch above South Africa.