Commerce minister calls for consolidation trading certificate easing costs for SMEs

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THE Minister of Commerce, Trade, and Industry, Chipoka Mulenga, has directed the Business Regulatory Review Agency (BRRA) to streamline the business registration process by merging multiple certificates into a single trading licence.

This initiative aims to reduce costs and simplify procedures for small enterprises.

Speaking during the commemoration of World Metrology Day in Lusaka, Minister Mulenga expressed concern over the cumbersome and costly process that entrepreneurs face when registering a business.

He highlighted that the current system, which requires multiple certificates for various business requirements including fire and health certificate, is not only time-consuming but also financially burdensome.

“It takes time for small enterprises to move from one office to the next paying different fees for different certificates which in turn eat up into their capital,” Mulenga stated.

He directed the BRRA to develop a single certificate encompassing all necessary business certifications by June 15, 2024.

“To set up an established or functional company you will have four, five, six, seven certificates. My call is this, those seven certificates, let’s collapse them into one..,” Mulenga instructed.

“I am saying through you, Madam Executive Director of the Business Regulatory Review Agency (Sharon Sichilongo), and your time frame is June 15th to conclude with this.”

The proposed single trading license should certify a business as fit to operate, covering all essential requirements such as fire safety and health standards.

“If you give a trading license, that trading license should certify fit for business and it should include fire, health, everything,” Mulenga added.

The minister also emphasised the importance of keeping the cost of the consolidated certificate affordable, to encourage the establishment and growth of small and medium enterprises.

“But I am not saying add all these fees into one so that it should move from K5 to K100,” Mulenga clarified through an example.

“A K5 for a trading license is sufficient to start a business. You cannot give a trading license and hold back a fire certificate. Give one certificate which is sufficient at the cost of the same trading certificate then you will see many small and medium enterprises.”

This directive, if implemented effectively, is expected to alleviate the financial and administrative burdens on small businesses, fostering a more conducive environment for entrepreneurship in Zambia.

By Elesani Phiri

Kalemba, May 21, 2024

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