European businesses plead for urgent improvement in business licensing, taxation
“We are here to listen to you and make swift improvements,” says Ahmed Shide, MoFED
The European Union Business Forum Ethiopia (EUBFE) pleaded for an urgent improvement of the business climate in Ethiopia on Thursday during an event held at Addis Ababa Hilton.
“We are here to listen to you and to act accordingly.” Ahmed Shide, State Minster, Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) assured that the government would undertake swift improvements on the implementation of policies.
The occasion that drew a number of EU ambassadors, members of the business community, international business consultants, and experts showed a direct structural dialogue with the Government of Ethiopia. “Despite the ongoing construction and infrastructure boom in the country, we the EU business community need to get a comprehensive business climate that is easy, efficient and flexible,” an EU investor said.
Barbara Plinkert, Charged Affair of the EU Delegation in Ethiopia said that EUBFE has been in continuing direct dialogue with the government of Ethiopia to realize a favorable business environment.
The Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) and the Ministry of Industry (MoI) repeatedly reacted on the wider range of showcases obtained from an independent legal expert. Impediments identified in the survey conducted in the ERCA and MoI revealed the obstacles and failures that have halted investment with the EU members and other foreign companies. “The survey could show us some of loopholes, but I think we are seeing encouraging progress,” Nuredin Mohamed, Trade Inspection and Regulatory, director and advisor to the state minister of MoI said.
Nebyou Samuel, deputy director of ERCA on his part said that implementing the laws and best practices enshrined in the Authority’s mandate significantly solves all the indicated obstacles. “We have to accept part of the shortcomings, but implementing the laws will relive our customers’ burden,” he said. According to Semaw Nigatu, a legal expert, some of the problems he enumerated were a shortage of foreign currency, inconsistency with the institutions, rigidity of rules, lengthy registration, and renewal of licenses. “We absolutely consider the EU a very important partner for trade and investment so we will work hard on our weaknesses,” Ahmed said. The state minister wrapped up the government’s response for the criticism his government received from the conference.
With a membership of 13 different countries, a steering committee of 12 members – supported by a permanent executive secretary – EUBFE’s inception was realized in May 2012 to foster the trade and investment between the two sides. “We are encouraged by the feedback from government officials who really took the points very seriously,” Chris De Muynck, Chairman of the EUBFE said.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn confirmed that his government greatly seeks more trade and investment links with the EU during his meeting with Jose Emanuel Barosso, EU commissioner as he hailed the 300 companies of EU members sates have already engaged in agro-processing and horticulture investments in Ethiopia. According to government officials, EU companies’ investments are estimated at 80 billion birr. International consultants and representatives of the regional economic block also indicated some of the principal factors missing in Ethiopia’s business environment. “We would like to see Ethiopia moving forward in its economic growth with the help of attractive business climate since it covers 25 percent of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA),” Theirry Mutombo, director, investment promotion and private sector for COMESA, said.