Sawtouna [Our Voice], a Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) initiative that strives to make grassroots entrepreneurship a commonplace in Jordan’s business environment by amending institutional policies for small/medium enterprises, discussed findings about temporary business licensing. Sawtouna has been compiling research to lobby for temporary business licenses that will allow entrepreneurs to start operating their business in standard commercial and manufacturing sectors before the final license is approved. This aims to encourage businesses to start operations as soon as possible rather than wait for the final license.
A representative from the Jordan Investment Board (JIB), Mr. Mousa Thiabat, Assistant Director/One Stop Shop (OSS) was a guest speaker at the event. He shared JIB’s history as well as its aim to promote investment and to fortify the national economy. He also provided insight on the topic of temporary business licensing. Following, the participants at the event addressed an array of issues that are relevant to the significance of temporary business licensing and the obstacles ahead for amending legislations.
In 2008, 150 new businesses were registered and licensed in Jordan, taking an average of 21 days to complete the process. The licensing process is often seen as a burdensome procedure for all sectors due to the lack of information and absence of clear sequential procedural steps. Also affecting licensing and registration is the complexity of the land use regulation (zoning). The discussion highlighted the lack of information that is provided regarding zoning, which confuses registrants and impedes the process.
The complexity of registration and licensing poses many challenges to amending legislation. For example, the OSS is restricted by the limited scope of authority granted to representatives by their government entities. Furthermore, the OSS does not yet have representatives of certain ministries such as the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture and the Natural Resource Authority. Also, the complex role of the Ministry of Environment entails ensuring conformity with zoning requirements, changing the aim of land use, requesting an environment impact assessment for major industrial projects and inspections. The coordination between the Ministries and the various requirements pose many complications that must be addressed.
To start implementing temporary business licensing, three key solutions were proposed. Firstly, an Inspection Reform Project by the International Financial Corporation/The World Bank Group in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade revealed that reform to the licensing process has to precede reform to inspection. Another posed solution was to create a comprehensive guide for new business owners in which the requirements, criteria and timelines were included for all the public authorities involved in the licensing process. This would help those registering understand the process and requirements, which would consequently lead to quicker registration and licensing. The third proposition was to conduct a pilot test for temporary business licenses in a service sector.
Karma Khalidi, Head of Programs stated, “Our discussions with industry experts and Jordan’s young entrepreneurs have shed light on many issues and challenges our lobbyists will have to face. These points will certainly help us address various concerns so that we may succeed at easing the registration and licensing process for all businesspeople.”