Sales Tax vs VAT – Best Way Forward

Sales Tax vs VAT – Best Way Forward

On Tuesday 16th October 2018, the British Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Economics Association of Zambia hosted several sector experts, academics, members of the press and other stakeholders at a public forum discussion to explore the 2019 national budget and dissect the proposed introduction of Sales Tax to replace the long standing Value Added Tax (VAT).

Panelists on the night included;

  • KPMG Zambia – Head of Tax and Partner, Michael Phiri
  • International Growth Centre (IGC), Twivwe Siwale
  • Consumer Unit Trust Society (CUTS) – Coordinator, Chenai Mukumba
The event was attended by a capacity crowed of 300 people from various sectors.  Unfortunately representatives from Ministry of Finance and the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) were unable to attend.

VAT OVER SALES TAX

Following detailed presentations and open floor discussions, the general consensus was that Value Added Tax is the more effective tax system compared to the proposed Sales Tax.

However, the meeting agreed that despite having an edge over Sales Tax, the Value Added Tax system was imperfect and needed some fine tuning (such as making supplies to the mines zero rated to avoid the subsequent problem of refunds) to maximise the system’s efficacy.

There were concerns about the cascading potential of Sales Tax and whether it would achieve an objective of widening the tax base.
Once details about the Sales Tax system have been created, there will be need to hold another public discussion, hopefully with Government representatives present to help address the above mentioned concerns.
Below are the three main presentations that were made by KPMG, CUTS and IGC available for download:
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Business Regulatory Review Agency [BRRA]: 2016 T0-Date

Business Regulatory Review Agency [BRRA]: 2016 T0-Date

The British Chamber of Commerce recently joined the Business Regulatory Review Agency (BRRA) in hosting a multi-stakeholder event in Lusaka earlier this week. The event was designed to, other things, provide a snapshot of BRRA as an entity, its main achievements and challenges since inception as well as a regulatory impact assessment report and short-to-medium term focus covering the next three (3) years.

Below is a summary of Business Regulatory Review Agency Director, Sharon Sichilongo’s keynote address:

BRRA INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

  • In 2008, Government appointed a Business Licensing Reform Committee (BLRC) whose mandate was to steer implementation of comprehensive business licensing reforms.
  • The BLRC report highlighted that Zambia had a weak regulatory and policy formulation system with limited or no consultation with stakeholders. This resulted in policy and regulatory frameworks that had adverse impacts on private sector development.
  • The report further highlighted that failure to harness and effectively use Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) to streamline licensing processes and develop integrated systems resulted in cumbersome, bureaucratic, inefficient and costly business registration processes.
  • The findings and recommendations of the BLRC provided the basis for government to initiate
  • Business reforms aimed at improving the business environment.
  • One such reform was the enactment of the Business Regulatory Act no. 3 of 2014 as a vehicle for providing a legal framework to govern business regulation and implement recommendations by the BLRC.
  • The BRRA was established as a Statutory Body under Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI) by the Business Regulatory Act.

MANDATE OF BRRA

The mandate of BRRA is to:

  • Review and approve proposed policies and laws that affect business activity to ensure they are legitimate and serve the intended purpose; and
  • Coordinate development and implementation of appropriate regulatory interventions in order to improve the delivery of regulatory services and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses.

FUNCTIONS OF BRRA

  • Reviewing and approving proposed policies and laws that affect business activity;
  • Developing and coordinating the implementation of Regulatory Services Centres;
  • Facilitating the development and implementation of Single Licensing Systems for regulating business activity;
  • Managing and updating the e-Registry;
  • Issuing guidelines and standards for Regulatory Impact Assessments and undertaking Public Consultations;
  • Building capacity in Regulatory Agencies in Regulatory Impact Assessments; and
  • Monitoring and evaluating the business regulatory environment.

MAJOR PROGRAMMES UNDERTAKEN

  • The following major programmes and activities were undertaken:
  • Review of Regulatory Impact Assessments
  • Regulatory Environment Monitoring
  • Development and Publication of RIA Standards and Guidelines
  • Development and Publication of RIA Handbook
  • Coordination of Regulatory Services Centres
  • E-registry
  • Single Licensing
  • Capacity building in RIA
  • Sensitisation and Awareness

REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT

Section 6 of the Act provides as follows.

  1. A public body shall only submit to Cabinet for approval a policy or proposed law to regulate business activity if that policy or proposed law has the prior approval of the Business Regulatory Agency.
  2. A public body that intends to introduce any policy or proposed law for regulating business activity shall:

(a) Give notice in in writing to the Agency, of the intention to introduce or review a regulatory framework or policy regulating business activity, at least two months before submitting it to Cabinet.

(b) hold public consultation for at least thirty (30) days with:

1) Persons or proprietors of business enterprises who shall be affected by the proposed regulatory frameworks;

2) Persons or proprietors of business enterprises who shall benefit from the proposed regulatory

frameworks;

3) Regulatory agencies and other public officers who will implement the proposed regulatory frameworks;

4) All other relevant stakeholders

REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT

  • The Agency has reviewed and approved seven (7) RIAs reports since June 2016 from various institutions. These include:
    • ZNBC
    • CCPC
    • ZICTA
    • WARMA
    • Ministry of Transport and Communication
    • Health Professions Council of Zambia
    • PACRA
  • Received 11 notifications which are currently at different stages.

REGULATORY SERVICES CENTRES (RSCs)

  • A Regulatory Services Centre (RSC) is a One Stop Unit established to facilitate one-stop compliance with multiple regulatory requirements by multiple Regulatory Agencies under one roof in order to provide for an efficient and effective business regulatory clearance system.
  • The RSCs are aimed at streamlining business registration procedures and reducing the time it takes to comply with business regulations by offering the services of various Regulatory Agencies under one roof.
  • The RSCs also serve to increase accessibility of business regulatory services as well as facilitate promotion of investment.

REGULATORY SERVICES CENTRES (RSCs)

  • The BR Act No. 3 of 2014 provides for establishing and operationalizing an RSC at least in each Province.
  • Four (04) RSCs have been established and operationalised so far. These are located in Lusaka, Livingstone, Kitwe and Chipata.
  • Assessments for suitable accommodation for RSCs were conducted in Solwezi, Kasama, Mansa and Chinsali.
  • Office accommodation for RSCs was identified in Solwezi and Kasama. The two RSCs have been targeted for establishment and operationalisation by December 2018.

REGULATORY SERVICES OFFERED FROM RSCs

  • Business Name Registration;
  • Company Incorporation;
  • Name Clearance;
  • Registration of trademarks and other intellectual property rights;
  • Tax Payer Identification Number Registration;
  • Tax Clearance;
  • Registration for Preferential Procurement;
  • Employer/Employee Registration;
  • Registration of Suppliers;
  • Registration of Cooperatives;
  • Business Clearance under Local Authorities;
  • Tourism Services; and
  • Online services;

ONE STOP SHOP INTEGRATION SYSTEM (OSSIS)

  • BRRA is coordinating the implementation of the One Stop Shop Integration System (OSSIS).
  • The OSSIS is meant to compliment RSCs by facilitating sharing of information on business regulatory requirements among Regulatory Agencies.
  • OSSIS leverages e-platform in business regulation and facilitates sharing of regulatory requirements from another Regulatory Agency which has already collected those requirements.
  • The OSSIS was successfully piloted from 2016 to 2017 with Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA), Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA).

ONE STOP SHOP INTEGRATION SYSTEM (OSSIS)

  • The OSSIS Strategic Plan for the period 2017-2018 was developed and the OSSIS is being implemented in three stages as follows:
  • Phase I of OSSIS implemented. I.e. Integration of systems for PACRA, ZRA, NAPSA, WCFCB, FIC and ZPPA.
  • Now it takes on average twenty-four (24) hours to comply with PACRA, ZRA and NAPSA from the Regulatory Services Centres.
  • Phase II under implementation. i.e. integration of ZESCO, ZICTA, RATSA, RDA, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Lands, Department of Immigration
  • Phase III to be implemented by December 2018 i.e. integration of all other relevant regulatory agencies and Local Authorities.

E-REGISTRY

  • Establishment, maintenance and upgrade of eRegistry by BRRA is provided for under Section 8 of the Business Regulatory Act No.3 of 2014.
  • The Act defines the e-Registry as a centralized database and online transaction platform holding
  • information on licenses and regulations including formalities businesses have to comply with, and capable of facilitating the processing of applications online.
  • The e-Registry was set to be implemented in three (03) stages namely:
  • Informational e-Registry – has been implemented.
  • Implementation of back office licence processing system in regulatory agencies
  • Transactional e-Registry – development being supported by the World Bank.
  • World Bank also supporting development of Noticeand-Comment Platform which will facilitate submission of comments online on proposed regulations affecting business.
  • The link for the e-Registry web portal is www.businesslicenses.gov.zm. 9/4/18
  • The e-Registry contains the following information:
  • Texts of relevant laws and subsidiary legislation on business regulation;
  • Name or title of the business licence;
  • Licence period or validity;
  • Licence fees;
  • Downloadable application forms; and
  • Contacts of issuing Regulatory Agencies.

SINGLE LICENSING SYSTEMS

  • The Business Regulatory Act No.3 of 2014 under Section 10 stipulates that there should be established for businesses in each sector or group of businesses in a sector, a Single Licensing System.
  • Single Licensing System means a licensing system designed to facilitate compliance with multiple licensing requirements by multiple regulatory bodies through a single regulatory point or a Regulatory Services Centre (RSC).
  • In other words, it is an integrated approach to processing and issuing all required licenses and permits for businesses operating in a given sector or sub sector.

SINGLE LICENSING SYSTEMS

  • BRRA analysed regulatory frameworks obtaining in the Tourism Sector and established that businesses needed to comply with a minimum of twelve regulatory agencies to obtain a Tourism Enterprise Licence.
  • The agency proceeded to engage Regulatory Agencies to identify gaps and duplications and it came to light that gaps and duplications do exist and Government intervention is needed.
  • BRRA as a coordinating Agency for Single Licensing Systems for various sectors has developed a roadmap for development and operationalisation of the Single Licensing System for the Tourism Sector.

CHALLENGES

  • Low staffing levels compromising the capacity of BRRA to effectively implement programmes;
  • Resistance by some regulatory agencies to mainstreaming of RIA in policy and legislation formulation processes.
  • Some Regulatory Agencies have continued to resist the RSC concept making it difficult to effectively implement RSCs as provided for in the B.R. Act No.3 of 2014;
  • Inadequate funding leading to delayed implementation of key programmes including:
    • Roll out of RSCs to all provinces;
    • Re-development of e-Registry platform; and
    • Development of Single licensing Systems for various sectors.

SHORT-TO-MEDIUM TERM FOCUS (2018-2021)

  • Sensitise and train all Local Authorities in RIA by June 2019
  • Capacity building in RIA for Regulatory Agencies
  • Review of regulatory frameworks in the agriculture sector and propose reforms
  • Roll out RSCs to remaining provincial capitals and selected districts;
  • Increase number of services offered in the RSCs and streamline procedures;
  • Full implementation of OSSIS;
  • To establish a Single Licensing Systems in at least five (05) sectors by 2021 and
  • Redevelopment of e-Registry to include transactional and Notice-and-Comment platform

Trade and Investment Mission to Finland Invitation

Invitation to Finland

Trade and Investment Mission to Finland Invitation

The Zambia Development Agency, and  Embassy of Finland in Lusaka, are organising a Trade and Investment Mission to Finland  scheduled for May 2018.

The aim of the mission is to foster development cooperation between the two governments; as well as trade and investment cooperation between private sector companies in economic sectors such as mining, renewable energy and waste management.

The mission is a follow up to the inward bound investment mission from Finland that we hosted in September 2017.

The mission is particularly designed to facilitate joint ventures and identify match making opportunities with Finish companies.

In view of this, we wish to invite you to attend this mission to Finland. If interested, you will be expected to submit detailed profiles of your businesses or projects. The profiles are meant to help organisers identify suitable business to business partnerships.

*Kindly note that you will be expected to bear all expenses related to your travel such as airfare, accommodation and insurance.

For more details about participation, kindly contact Mr. Jones Zulu on +260977543080 or jones.zulu@zda.org.zm.