Another e-government service for Seychelles as business licensing applications go online
The offices of the Seychelles Licensing Authority in the capital of Victoria. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Entrepreneurs wishing to start a business in Seychelles may find it a little easier to get set up after the Seychelles Licensing Authority (SLA) announced the launch of its business licensing e-service yesterday.
According to a press statement issued by the SLA, the service was launched by the Minister for Finance, Trade & Investment, Pierre Laporte, at an event on Wednesday. The e-service project was developed by the Department of Information Communication Technology with assistance from the World Bank.
The e-service is expected to improve Seychelles’ position on the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report, which measures the ease of doing business based on the regulations and corresponding red tape surrounding starting a business and trading in each of the 189 countries it assesses. Seychelles is currently ranked at 85th in the world and sixth in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The SLA is seeking to modernize the way it conducts business and the launching of the new business licensing e‐service constitutes a major step in that direction to interconnect all e‐government platforms,” read the statement.
The Licensing Authority has also announced that it will soon be setting up regional licensing kiosks in the future to decentralise its operations for people who live further away from the capital city of Victoria.
According to the SLA, the new e-service would enable the public online access to apply for or renew their business licenses anywhere and at any time “without having to visit the office”.
|The government of Seychelles' e-services portal is used to access a range of public services, including planning authority applications, business registration, licensing and taxation services. (Seychelles e-gov portal) Photo license: CC-BY|
Payment facility 'still in progress'
However, all is not quite as simple as it seems.
So far, only trade licenses can be obtained online, although SLA told local newspaper the Seychelles Nation that it plans to include other types of licenses in the system early next year.
Clients wishing to make use of the service have been advised to present themselves in person at the SLA offices, located on 5th June Avenue in Victoria for positive identification purposes, to prevent identity theft and fraud of National Identity cards and numbers.
Furthermore, when completing the license application form, all the required documentation must be scanned and uploaded, a somewhat cumbersome task if there are a lot of documents to be attached.
SLA’s Information Technology Manager, Denis Hermitte, said the online application process required a computer to fill in the application and a document scanner to scan the supporting documents required, such as lease agreements, health references and business registration number, depending on the type of business license applied for.
And as yet there is no e-payment facility, meaning that applicants must still make a trip to the SLA’s offices to pay for their application.
“The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is working on the payment platform that could be introduced before the end of this year, which will further facilitate the process to apply for the business license, saving people the time it would take for them to physically come to the office to make payments,” he said.
|The e-service will allow the public online access to apply for or renew their business licenses anywhere and at any time without having to visit the office.(Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
E-service applications are expected to take around 14 days to be processed, the same time as an over-the-counter application.
Hermitte explained that processing times can take longer at times, such as when it becomes necessary for SLA to deal with other consulting bodies in order to process an application.
He said he believed that with the license e-service, some applications could be processed in as little as a day, but that others, especially applicants who do not attach all the necessary supporting documents, can take more time.
On a monthly basis, SLA processes an average of 30 business applications, which has dropped considerably since the government agency lengthened its renewal period to five years, meaning the majority of applications they receive now are for new businesses.
The business licensing e-service can be accessed via the government of Seychelles’ main e-services portal, which also offers taxation, import and export permit, ASYCUDA World, business registration, business name search and planning authority e-services to the public.