Economy

More facilitation for businessmen to invest in Burundi is needed

Some EAC businessmen who operate in Burundi state that the country has a good and wonderful climate for business. However, the system to facilitate investors has to be improved more and more.-Yves Didier Irakoze

Port of Bujumbura.©Iwacu

Port of Bujumbura.©Iwacu

Abdul is a businessman from Tanzania who has been running his business here in Burundi since three years. He mentions that though his goods were burned in Bujumbura Central market; Burundi would be the best place for business if all the concerned services were working more effectively. “In Burundi there is no standard on customs clearance. It is changing over and over. Today for example, clearing goods can cost BIF 300,000 but tomorrow or after tomorrow the price may increase. We don’t understand why,” he declares.  e goes on saying that goods can spend two weeks in stocks at the port whereas in other EAC member states goods are cleared up in 12 hours. John, a businessman from Kenya, states that clearance services are not quick to help businessmen to run their business in time.
“Once I went to a clearing agency to follow up my products around 12; unfortunately, I found that the offices were closed whereas they should work every time to facilitate customers,” points out John. According to Nicholas Kithinji a Kenyan from Circuit Power LTD present in all EAC countries, Burundi is a potential country that offers good services to their Company. However, there is a lack of capacity in the taxation system comparing to other EAC countries. He explains that business in Burundi is slow far from being active and dynamic but there is hope.

Burundian Revenue Authority (OBR) reacts

According to Fiacre Muhimpundu, in Charge of Communication at OBR, services or agencies that help customers to clear their goods are permanently open to receive customers. They work all day long up to 8 o’ clock pm to facilitate businessmen. Concerning the period goods spend in stocks at the port, Muhimpundu states that goods usually spend 48h if all the required documents are complete. It may happen that goods are delayed to be cleared when the trade documents don’t comply with the existing regulations. Moreover, one Clearing Agency can wrongly do the operation. Then, we take enough time to restart this latter. That’s why the process may be long.  Fiacre Muhimpundu adds that soon a call line will be fixed up to allow business people to expose their problems at any time.

Improvement is necessary

According to Abdul, many investors would like to come to invest in Burundi but they fear the “sluggishness” of the system. They want it to be faster and more transparent. “We also need the government to check carefully the origin of the different products whether or not they come from EAC to tax them accordingly.” he says. Moreover, he indicates that security should be strengthened to attract more investors in the country. John adds that there should be EAC Business Council in Burundi where business people will go to complain when they are unjustly accused. We also need more skilled staff in business in various clearing agencies because the port is the heart and the strength of the country.

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