For the first time in Mauritania’s history, parliamentarians and business leaders have come together to discuss how to improve the economic and business climate of the North African country.
The two groups agreed to submit an official report to the Mauritanian National Assembly detailing issues and recommendations, and they plan to establish a commission promoting ongoing collaboration between government and the private sector.
At a May 7 forum, the business leaders and members of parliament (MPs) discussed issues affecting the business environment in Mauritania, such as a complicated legal framework, financial instability, undocumented workers and corruption. The two groups worked on how to solve these problems, including how to cut red tape and promote the equal enforcement of laws.
Acting on suggestions from the business community, the MPs agreed on the need to create a national identification number for taxpayers to help streamline and track tax payments on business income, and to promote good corporate citizenship with the aim of discouraging corruption. They also agreed to consult with the African Development Bank, which provides guidance and ideas for promoting the private sector in Africa.
The event marks the first time a parliamentary committee has consulted publicly with the private sector. Previous attempts at dialogue involved small groups of citizens meeting with individual MPs to discuss specific problems.
NDI partnered with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) to help both sides prepare for the event. CIPE, a nonpartisan nongovernmental organization that fosters free enterprise and business around the world, helped business associations develop their proposals and coordinate a common platform of the most pressing issues to take to the parliament. NDI worked with members of the Committee on Economic Affairs on the mechanics of the forum and the role that MPs would play.
As one representative of the business sector explained: “All of us know the problems, but we have to think about solutions.” Meanwhile, the MPs talked about their perspectives on the issues and expressed a desire to work with business leaders.
Both sides agreed that this first meeting set a standard for moving forward. “The way this meeting was organized will help change the dynamics for how to have a positive dialogue as partners in the future,” said Sid’Ahmed Ould Mohamed Ould Ahmed, chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs.
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Pictured above: A representative of the business community presents his ideas before the committee.
Published May 16, 2011