Licensing abolished for non-risky businesses

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Bereng Mpaki

CERTAIN business enterprises that previously required licensing before operating will no longer need it, thanks to a new law to be implemented soon.

The Business Licensing and Registration Act, 2019, allows the government to use a risk-based approach in licensing businesses. Those deemed to be harmful to the public and environment will be licensed while those not considered to be posing any harm will not be licensed, provided they are registered.

Before this, all companies were required to be licensed before commencing operations.

The new regime expected to speed up the process of starting a business and reducing associated costs such as license fees, thereby improving the country’s investment climate.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is currently undertaking a countrywide roadshow to raise public awareness about the changes brought about by the new law.

The campaign, in which the ministry is collaborating with the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), is expected to be completed in June 2022.

Despite being enacted in 2019, implementation of the legislation was delayed as the ministry’s systems were not ready to accommodate the changes it came with. With the systems now in places, implementation will begin after the road show.

“The purpose of the countrywide roadshow is to inform the business community about the changes brought about by the Business Licensing and Registration Act and to explain implementation modalities,” said the ministry’s chief information officer, ‘Mantletse Maile.

Ms Maile said among the changes coming with the new legislation was the new risk approach to licensing businesses.

“The new law among others, introduces risk-based licensing, which will allow the ministry to exempt businesses that are not considered harmful to the people and environment from licensing, while those deemed to pose risks will be licensed.”

She said the new licensing system will also see unlicensed enterprises renewing their registration every three years, while those needing licensing will continue to renew annually.

Businesses that may be seen as not risky include graphic designing, dress-making, beauty parlours, media companies and supermarkets among others.

Those that are risky include establishments in the food and drinks industry such as restaurants and hotels, petroleum fuel industry businesses and medical products among others.

Other changes include business enterprises that are reserved for indigenous locals.

Ms Maile said they were also emphasising the importance for locals to not transfer their businesses to foreign players for this to achieve its mission of localising economic development.

On her part, LCCI’s marketing officer, Paballo Mohapi said the roadshow was a good opportunity for the organisation to sensitise the public about its role.

“We are using the roadshow to provide the business community with information relating to critical services necessary for business operations, opportunities in the pipeline as well as milestones achieved thus far.”

She noted LCCI has numerous opportunities through its international partners that business communities could exploit to grow their operations.

One such partnership the LCCI has with is the United Kingdom government, which is intended to sensitise local fruit farmers on how to produce for export in order to break into the UK market.

“We have also developed a digital advertising platform called i-Mall targeting micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs). As the name suggests, it is a digital mall where we upload MSME’s sales information such as pictures of their products as displayed in a physical store as well as their contacts to facilitate online buying for anyone interested in them,” Ms Mohapi said, adding these were among the information being imparted at the roadshows which kicked off in Mokhotlong on Friday.

 

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