The Ministry made the disclosure yesterday during a press conference on Ashmund Street.
The Ministry is reforming its method of operation, especially regarding field inspectors.
The new administrative policies and structures are being put in place to ensure that businesses comply with the rules and regulations expected of them as an operating business entities.
The objective of the reforms is to ensure public safety for goods and services businesses provide on the local market.
The exercise indicates that the Ministry through it Inspectorate Division is re-committing itself to conducting business inspections which would encourage overall business development of both local and foreign-based businesses. This will also include measures to eliminate poor inspection practices which can hinder the growth and development of the private-sector, and ultimately hinder the continuous development of the country.
According to Minister Miatta Beysolow, the process to reforms all the sectors and activities of the Ministry comes in the wake of numerous concerns being raised by the consuming public as well as business houses. There have been reports of the proliferation of substandard goods, and a sharp increase in the prices of basic commodities on the local market.
These reforms will include implementation of the inspectorate order, setting up the hotlines for inspection inquires, implementations of the inspection notice, reduction in the number of inspection per year and special inspectorate division badges as well as the creation of a new national inspectorate council.
The setting up of a National Inspectorate Council, the Minister said, was necessary, “because it will assist the various ministries and agencies tasked with business inspections to coordinate efforts so that businesses are not overly inspected and that clear and defined roles among the various inspectorates are identified.
“The National Inspectorate Council will provide government with the necessary information on issues that are currently affecting business operations in the country so that necessary measures can be put into place to address some of the issues arising from the field during inspections,” Minister Beysolow explained.
At the moment, there are 13 inspectors from various ministries and agencies on the field inspecting businesses and other sectors of the government and private entities. Some of these inspectors include those from the labor sector, health, environmental protection agency, justice, among others.
As for implementing inspectorate division badges, the MOCI said they were in discussions with the Civil Service Agency (CSA) on the creation of specialized identification badges, which will be sworn by all Commerce officers, while performing their official duty by conducting on-site business inspections.
To avoid the constant wave of impersonation by individuals posing as commerce inspector, the Ministry said, that the inspectors’ “new identification badges will display certain security features, which cannot be easily replicated.”
Accordingly, it will also contain Ministry’s picture and CSA employee number. By that, businesses may use the information on the badge of an individual inspector to call the hotline and inquire whether the officer was authorized by the Ministry to inspect the business’s operations.
In keeping with international best practices, the Ministry said it will reduce the number of times per year that Commerce officers will inspect businesses.
“While statistics have shown that increased inspections do not lead to increased business compliance, the Ministry will seek to use the opportunities it has with businesses gaining and maintaining compliance with government regulations,” Minister Beysolow noted.
According to her, the Ministry on a bi-monthly basis will post in local daily newspapers, the geographical location for which commerce officers will conduct business inspections. These notices, the Minister said, will be posted with the estimated dates and times businesses are to expect a Commerce officer at their place of business.
This reform measure, she added, provides businesses the opportunity to prepare for the inspection and to make arrangements so that their normal business operations will not be disturbed.
The Ministry’s hotline, according to the Minister, will also ensure that business owners have an opportunity to call and question whether the Commerce officer present at their place of business was authorized to do so or not.
“The existence of the hotline will assist the Ministry in tackling corruption within the inspectorate and promote sound government practices, which would increase the private-sector’s trust in government’s ability to maintain positive investment climate.