Members of Parliament yesterday concluded a two-day pre-legislation workshop that gave insight into three key Bills that will boost the business environment in the country. The Companies Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, and the Payment Systems Bill were reviewed by Parliamentarians and discussed at length in order to facilitate the process for enactment.
The new Companies Bill updates the original Act (passed in 1960) and brings it in line with international standards. The Bankruptcy Bill proposes a new Act which does not currently exist in Sierra Leone and as a result it is difficult to declare bankruptcy and close a business. Furthermore, the Payment Systems Act will ensure payments are done properly and electronically and will be in line with ECOWAS monetary policies (WAMZ). It will also create further business opportunities for telecoms operators and payment service providers as all banks will be required to connect electronically to the system.
Among the facilitators were distinguished members of Sierra Leone’s justice sector, Mr. Abdul Tejan Cole, Ms. C. A. Kallay, Central Bank Legal Officer, Mr. Sullay Mannah and Ministry of Justice Draughtsman, Mr. Clarence Adusei.
The workshop was co-funded by the Government of Sierra Leone, development partners and the private sector, including the Ministry of Trade & Industry, the Bank of Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Bankers’ Association, NATCOM, the Sierra Leone Business Forum and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
According to news released from The Communication Consultant of “Doing business reform committee” Marisa Zawacki, fast-tracking of the 3 Bills is being pioneered by the Reform Legislation Committee (RLC) which is made up of members from the Ministry of Justice (Chair), Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Sierra Leone. The RLC is a sub-committee established by the Government’s Doing Business Reform Committee (DBRC) which comprises the heads of various MDAs: Ministry of Trade and Industry (Chair), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Labour, Central Bank, NASSIT, NRA, Office of the Administrator and Registrar General, State House (Private Sector Adviser).
Following the workshop, the Bills are expected to be passed into law by the end of the month. Passing the legislation quickly will not only have an immediate effect on the current operational landscape of the private sector, but is also timely for Sierra Leone’s contribution to the IFC/World Bank’s annual Doing Business survey which ranks economies around the world on the ease of doing business. Last year, Sierra Leone ranked 156 out of 181 economies. The rankings are published annually in September and the government is hoping for a marked improvement this year. With the establishment of the Doing Business Reform Committee, the legislative reform agenda is a top priority as many areas of business reform require legislative changes.