The Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP):2014-2019 sets out the Western Cape Government’s vision and strategic priorities together with action plans. The PSP sets out five strategic goals of which Strategic Goals One (PSG1): Creating opportunities for growth and jobs, reside primarily with Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT). As a key component of the PSP, the primary role of PSG1 is to creation enabling environment for businesses to grow and create jobs. PSG1 comprises of 7 strategic priorities of which the strategic priority for “Improve the regulatory environment to enhance the ease of doing business” is key.
The Red Tape Reduction Unit was established in 2011 in the DEDAT. The Premier officially launched the unit in her State of the Province Address in February 2011. The main objective of the unit is to cut red tape and remove bureaucratic blockages to make it easier and more cost-effective to do business in the Western Cape.
The Red Tape Reduction Unit follows a 2 pronged approach in tackling bottlenecks in the business environment:
- Reactive/responsive (through its response to cases lodged with its Business Helpline);
- Proactive, which seeks to identify legislation and processes that represent barriers to business or efficiency in government, and designing interventions that will cut across an entire industry sector or several processes.
The outcome of the interventions must impact on the cost of doing business in terms of reducing either time, costs or complexity.
The unit’s Business Helpline provides an easily accessible platform to access valuable information for starting and operating businesses and navigate around red tape obstacles. It has dealt with just almost 7000 cases since its inception in 2011, and maintains a resolution rate in excess of its target of 85%.
The WCG in its Provincial Strategic Plan 2014-2019 set itself a target of R1 billion to be achieved in savings in the cost of red tape and/or increased business turnover through an improvement of ease of doing business, i.e., an improvement in the business environment in the province. Consequently, the Red Tape Costing Tool has been developed to assess, track and calculate the savings in red tape costs and the benefits to business and government resulting from red tape reduction initiatives in the province. In fact, using the trial version of tool, preliminary projections have been calculated which indicate that our interventions have already benefitted businesses and the economy to the tune of some R600m.
The WCG’s initiative to make Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) standard practice for new policy and legislation took a big step forward, with Cabinet approving it as a mandatory requirement for all significant legislation and policies in May 2017. In February 2017 an information session on RIA was held with the MECs and HODs at the annual Cabinet Bosberaad. We are the first and only province to elevate RIA to this level.
The unit also proactively conducts systematic reviews of proposed new legislation and policy, and comments thereon where necessary and retrospectively, reviews existing legislation and policy as identified in studies and thereafter lobbies for amendment or reform thereof. In both instances the reviews are done from the perspective of reducing the administrative burden the legislation or policy imposes on businesses, in order to make it easier to start, operate and grow a business in the Province. In many instances, the comments provided by the unit are incorporated in the revised draft legislation (Bills and draft regulations) and policies. E.g. The Copyright Amendment Bill. The unit was instrumental in lobbying for the amendment of the stringent visa regulations implemented by the Department of Home Affairs in May 2014.
The Red Tape Reduction Unit has partnered with sister departments to improve business-facing processes through business process improvement (BPI) projects e.g., the Department of Transport and Public Works (tourism signage and abnormal load permit applications) and Agriculture (export related processes, permit applications and auditing). Several BPI project possibilities with national departments are being explored as well. The potential for making it easier, cheaper and faster to do business in the province is immense, considering the many and varied approvals, licences and authorisations that businesses require to operate – sometimes as many as (and possibly more than) 25 in respect of a single factory or plant – and which must be obtained from a range of departments, agencies and regulators.
Removing bottlenecks in the business environment is a transversal priority therefore the Department has established an Ease of Doing Business Task Team which includes representatives from the provincial economic cluster departments and the City of Cape Town. Many of the identified projects address systemic proactive solutions to challenges for industry and business.