President Antoine Kon-Kam King, Asst. Secretary Franky Chitson, Immediate Past President Tony Ah-Yu, Board Member Angelie Ng, and Members Ka Yee Leung and Maxime Koon met with Honourable Soomilduth Bholah, Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives this week. Present also were Nooranee Oozeer, Senior Chief Executive and three other Staff Members of the Ministry.
The Minister thanked the delegation for its visit. He said that he was impressed with the content of the letter we submitted to the Ministry of Finance and agreed with the majority of the points we have advanced in the letter. He was particularly pleased to receive a delegation from CBC representing Business Interests and he was keen to learn what problems/issues we had.
The following is a summary of some of the issues raised with the Minister. He promised to follow up on these and will take them in the different fora e.g. Cabinet, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Commerce, MRA/Port Authority, etc. as appropriate.
1. Banking Problems: delays in opening Bank Accounts and Change of Signatures. He was happy we had raised the issue and he is supportive. Also, high bank charges, especially in relation to SMEs.
2. Additional work permit flexibility, especially for SMEs and considering our small market and need to increase our Human Resource Pool. Whether the Ministry can support us with the Ministry of Labour in extending the Graduate Training Scheme for companies which are new start-ups. Interns should be paid a stipend and not the minimum wage, otherwise this will limit the number of interns being trained.
3. Licensing Delays: appreciative of EDB effort to do e-licensing but must review and streamline the underlying manual processes e.g. Fire Service clearance, Police Clearance, Municipal clearances.
4. Industry classification at municipality level should be harmonized with industry classification used by Registrar of Companies. Due to differences currently, one is often requested by the municipality to make a change to the business registration card, which requires another trip to the Registrar.
5. Artificial Intelligence, IT in relation to e-Government. Facilitation/expertise by some of our members.
6. Computerisation of Registrar of Associations to be on par with Registrar General and Registrar of Companies.
7. Issues with local manufacturers having to pay VAT and other Taxes on the various inputs whereas Imports come in VAT free and duty free on certain items. Level playing field in the Area of chicken imports and chicken products.
8. Port Charges very high compared to other countries like Malaysia and India
9. Delay and duplication in health certification of imported foodstuff, causing additional Port Charges and Demurrage.
CBC Communication Team