GIS – 29 March, 2019: The National Electronic Licensing System (NELS), a key initiative to improve the investment and doing business climate in Mauritius, was launched yesterday at the Caudan Arts Centre, Port Louis. The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, the Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Board (EDB), Mr François Guibert, and other personalities were present.
The NELS forms part of the project ‘Improving the Business and Investment Climate in Mauritius’ which aims to facilitate the business and investment environment by reducing the number of business permit applications and the time taken to obtain business licences and permits. This modern and efficient practice will not only reduce the time and cost to the private sector, but will improve transparency, predictability and reduce uncertainty in the investment decision making process.
The project is being co-financed by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund, Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Regional Indicative Programme (2014– 2020) to the tune of EU 10 million and the financing agreement was signed in January 2017. The EDB has been mandated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to spearhead the setting up and operationalisation of the NELS to improve the investment and doing business climate in Mauritius.
In her keynote address at the launch event, Vice-Prime Minister Jeewa-Daureeawoo highlighted that the NELS represents a key component of Mauritius’s efforts to further enhance the ease of doing business. This initiative, she indicated, is part of Government’s many efforts to digitise the services provided to the business community and the public at large, for the sake of both efficiency and transparency. She mentioned several major digitisation projects which have been implemented namely, the setting up of the Citizens Support Portal, the enhancement of the Mauritius e-Registry Portal which allows property registry to be carried online, the digital transformation of the National Transport Authority, and provision of Government e-services.
The Vice-Prime Minister rejoiced that over the last three years, Government has engaged in multi-level reforms and sustained efforts to streamline procedures and improve the business environment in Mauritius. One such example, she pointed out, is the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2017 which provides the legislative framework to address constraints with regards to permits, licenses and clearances. Thanks to these efforts, Mauritius is ranked 20th out of 190 countries in the Doing Business Report 2019, representing a 29 places leap in just two years, she added.
Furthermore, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo recalled that an inter-ministerial committee has been set up under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to provide policy directives and oversee the implementation of the doing business reforms. This is supported by a High-Level Technical Committee which has already elaborated a detailed action plan on the indicators measured for the ease of doing business, she said.
The Vice-Prime Minister also outlined two key projects of the Government aimed at improving the regulatory quality in the country. They are: Regulatory review of the business-related regulatory principles, followed by an in-depth review of the regulatory framework for four key sectors namely, land use and construction, trade and logistics, tourism and health and life sciences; Introduction of a regulatory impact assessment tool for evidenced-based approach to business related legislations.
Moreover, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo recalled that in a bid to further simplify licensing procedures, remove bureaucratic impediments and streamline approval processes, the EDB has embarked on a Business Process Reengineering programme covering 140 licenses across 14 Ministries. The new processes will then be automated on the NELS and will be completed by April this year.
For his part, Minister Sawmynaden, stated that citizen-centric services are a priority for Government. To that end, he underlined that the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation has set up the Info-Highway data sharing platform which has been acclaimed by a World Summit on Information System Championship Prize in 2018.
This business-friendly platform, he underlined, facilitates movement of data between agencies. As at date, 370+ data sharing e-services have been deployed, he said. Other initiatives include: launching of seven mobile apps such as the Smart Police app, Smart Traffic app, School Companion app, Family Welfare app, Emergency Alert app.
The setting up of the NELS creates a single point of entry for all business licenses, permits, clearances, certificates or other type of authorisation required to start and operate a business. Furthermore, it enables cross agency integration and customer-centric services.
The platform is designed to be win-win for the private sector and for the public sector agencies. The key attributes of the system are: Ease of access to government services anytime; Online application for permits; Electronic payment and notifications; Dashboard to track and monitor application status; Digitally issued permits and licenses; and Central repository business permits and licenses.
As of date, the system has already on-boarded the Occupation Permit, the Occupation Permit De-registration Process, and the Building and Land Use Permit. By August 2019, the whole spectrum of construction related permits will be available online, including the EIA, Preliminary Environmental Report, Morcellement Permit and Land Conversion Permit.
The online system is already live at the City Council of Port Louis, the Municipal Council of Beau-Bassin / Rose-Hill, the District Council of Black-River and the District Council of Pamplemousses and will be deployed across the remaining local authorities by mid-2019.
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