By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Registrar of Companies of the Single Window Business Registration of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Lamin A. K. Touray, has raised serious concerns of finance in helping to sustain the effective operation of the project.
He was speaking to members of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) during their visit to the project site in Banjul as part of the Assembly’s task to visit World Bank funded project sites.
He said when the project was setup, the project note designs that the single window business registration should be a semi-autonomous department and to eventually become autonomous but this has phased out. He identified finance as a major challenge for the project. “Our last budget 2015, we did indicate it in our budget contribution that they (the government) should allow us to see what percentages could be left for the single window business if not at some point we will have crises,” he said.
Mr. Touray noted that their machines have started deteriorating and need to be replaced. He said if the project wants to depend on the fund allocated to the ministry, at some point they will have a breakdown.
He urged the PAC/PEC members to help the project in ensuring that a budget line is created for the project so that its valuable functions can continue.
He said if funds are available, the project intends to spread its services to the other regions as the registration centers are only located in Banjul and Kanifing Municipality.
He said the project registers businesses in a period of one day. He however added that electricity failure sometimes challenges their effectiveness in terms of facilitating the registration process in a day.
The Register said the project also provides avenues for online registration. He said they are harmoniously working with stakeholders like Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Social Security and Housing Finance Cooperation.
He finally commended the government for its foresight in the implementation of the project.
Mr. Tamsir Manga, the Program Manager of the Growth and Competiveness Project, said the Single Window Business Registration is a project under the Business Environment Component of the Growth and Competiveness Project. He said the business registration is meant to bring relevant stakeholders together to ease the registration process of new businesses. He recalled that business registration used to take a lot of days before the inception of the project and that now it is done within a day.
He said the purpose of the project is to facilitate the smooth running of business registrations in the Gambia. He said the project has an online business registration process too but added that they have some challenges in terms of internet accessibility.
He said the Growth and Competiveness Project was funded by the World Bank at a tune of 12 million Dollars and that 3.5 million Dollars of the total budget was spent on the Business Environment Component.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang, said the Assembly is very concerned with the registration of businesses in the country as it goes a long way in improving the economy of the country. He said the officials of the project should have earlier informed the Assembly about the financial constraints they are facing so that they (NAMs) can make efforts to solve their problems.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, thanked the project officials, adding that the project was highly anticipated. He said its sustainability should be the collective responsibility of all relevant stakeholders. Honorable Jatta reiterated the Speaker’s sentiments that the project officials should have raised their concerns with the Assembly for redress. While congratulating the project officials of what he tagged a ‘job well-done’, he noted that new businesses enhance development.
Hon. Netty Baldeh, also urged the project officials to engage the parliament in terms of the constraints they face in the execution of their responsibilities and sustainability.
In responding to the comments, the Registrar of Companies said they have raised the concerns with the central government but their requests are yet to be considered.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, Dodou C. M. Kebbeh, said measures should be put in place to ensure the sustainability of the Single Window Business Registration Project. He urged the officials of the project to come up with a technical and financial proposal for the sustainability and decentralization across the other regions of the country.
Hon. Cherno Omar Jallow raised the issue of electricity and said the project should have a standby generator when NAWEC goes off.
Mr. Touray said there is a new generator for the project but added that it is serving the project and other departments of the ministry of justice and thus its service is not very effective as the demand is more than the supply.
The Consultant of the National Assembly site project, Mr. Omar Ousman Jobe, expressed delight with the project and added that it is fundamental in national development. He noted that the project management’s meeting with the PAC/PEC is crucial in unveiling their constraints before the August Assembly for redress.