The Registrar-General's Department yesterday began electronic (online) registration of businesses with the commissioning of an automated front desk office aimed at reducing delays and also stamping out corrupt practices.
This means that registration of businesses in Ghana would be fast-tracked and streamlined within a maximum of five days, compared with the 14 days stipulated by the World Bank.
In addition, the Department has opened fully automated offices in Kumasi and Takoradi and will open another in Tamale to decentralise the process of business registration to save time and resources for the many business operators and prospective entrepreneurs who throng the Department for service.
Addressing the media at a pre-commissioning dinner yesterday in Accra, Mr Joe Ghartey, Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, said the new face of registration formed part of the Government's Business Law Reform Programme that started in 2002.
He said under the programme Ghana's Business Code, which was drafted many years ago to suit the economy at that time, would be reviewed with many major changes to be introduced.
Mr Ghartey said the major changes would centre on areas such as laws on insolvency, intellectual property and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Department hopes that by 2009, individuals, corporate bodies and religious organisations could start their registration process and other activities online.
Mr Joseph Kofi Harley, the Acting Registrar-General, said the aim of the reforms at the Department was to reduce stress and corruption if not eradicate them entirely in the registration of business.
He said the Department was fully in support of the business law reforms programme being spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General and would ensure that investment made into the Department did not go to waste. 'Gone will be the days when files would be said to be lost because now the Registrar General's Department is capable of registering business even half-a day,' Mr Harley said.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Lawrence Lartey, Information Technology (IT) Manager, said a lot had been done at the department from the installation of the Local Area Network (LAN) to procurement of several computers and their accessories to the equipping staff to be accustomed to the new environment. He said the department would link its activities to the Government e-governance programme next year.
'The Registrar-General's Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), VAT Service, Large Tax Unit (LTU) and Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) have been selected for the pilot project on the e-governance and when it becomes operational, access to data, among all these institutions would be a matter of a click on the computer,' Mr Lartey said.
The Department, he added, had installed an electronic door system to upgrade the security system and in partnership with the Fidelity Bank, mechanisms have also been put in place to automatically channel all transactions charges/fees to the bank for onward transfer to the Bank of Ghana.
'This will not only reduce tremendously the stress and time that people go through during the registration process but also the handling of cash and checking of corrupt practices in the Department,' Mr Lartey said.