Government officials and businessmen in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday opened a three-day forum on the means of improving the business climate, notably regarding taxation and the fight against corruption.
Steps will be taken to provide "a more modern public service (...) capable of effectively combatting red tape and corruption, which deprive the state of the means that it needs and discourage potential investors," Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo told the opening of the round-table session.
The forum was arranged by Planning Minister Vunabandi Kanyamihigo, who oversees a steering committee on improving the business climate. Foreign diplomats and representatives of the World Bank and the Federation of Companies in Congo attended the meeting.
The former Belgian colony is currently ranked 178th out of 183 countries listed by the World Bank in "Doing Business 2012", which evaluates the business climate by a series of indices. DR Congo lost two places as compared with the previous year.
According to the World Bank publication, it is stagnating in cross-border trade (167th) and the implementation of contracts (170th), and lost three points in business start-ups (148th), four points in obtaining loans (174th) and two points in protecting investors (155th).
In September, DR Congo is due to become a member of the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), which Matata Pongo described as an "important step" and a "strong signal" by the government "particularly to remedy our ill-adapted business laws".
If applied effectively, membership of OHADA -- which was founded in 1993 and currently includes 17 countries, according to its website -- will enable DR Congo to become "a country where it will be beneficial to do business well, a country where taxation doesn't stifle business, a country where the legal and judicial security of investments will become a living reality," the prime minister said.© ANP/AFP