Feb 18 (Reuters) - President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo is looking to draw new investors to his Central African country with an unprecedented package of over 30 reforms of law affecting business.
Here is a breakdown of some of the most important steps:
* Fewer documents needed to form a company, extra “visa de legalisation” previously required for foreign investors to be scrapped. The World Bank’s “Doing Business 2010” survey estimated that launching a business in Congo took around 150 days and involved 13 procedures.
* Set in place mechanisms to ensure companies can obtain a registration number and start trading within 48 hours; registration time for separate commercial permit reduced from 15 to five days. Lower fees planned but not yet introduced.
* Tax on property transfers halved to three percent; fees required for planning permission to be published and reduced; property title deeds to go on public display.
* Company information and legislation that is published on the Internet to be accorded legal value.
* Adoption of the OHADA set of harmonised business practices already ratified by 16 states in West and Central Africa. The move has been approved by the Supreme Court and is now awaiting Kabila’s signature.
Planned for the first half of 2010:
* Complex tax on company turnover to be replaced by standard value added tax (VAT) system.
* “Parafiscal” taxes collected by non-federal authorities to be streamlined; sanctions for civil service departments and officials who collect taxes outside their remit.
* Tax audits to be announced in advance.
* Hiring and firing procedures for employers to be simplified; caps on maximum working hours to be eased.
* Effort to avoid duplication of import/export procedures by different state bodies; publication of a new customs duty code.
* Cost of passports and visas to be halved, creation of a visa for those entering Congo to do business.
* A ban on foreign traders to be scrapped — it currently means foreign-owned commercial companies must obtain a special dispensation or use Congolese frontmen.
* Public-private partnership to be introduced.
* Insurance and gambling sectors to be liberalised. (Reporting by Thomas Hubert; editing by Mark John)