Analysis

Understanding The Ease Of Doing Business

The new business processes that will be put online will not only be information, but will also link to those services that are available online. The end goal is to have a portal for all business-related information and approvals.
26 Feb 2020 10:04
Understanding The Ease Of Doing Business
Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Local Government, Housing and Coounity Development Premila Kumar outside Parliament on November 28, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Analysis:

It has been raised over and over again that Fiji’s Ease of Doing Business ranking has been falling.

This has taken a political turn over the years.

But, steps that the Government is taking now are expected to raise our ranking.

What has been done:

Various e-Government initiatives have been launched that are taking services closer to the people.

On 10th July, 2019, Government took another step forward in the process of simplifying doing business in Fiji.

In Parliament, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Premila Kumar, while answering a question on the ease of doing business, explained that with the launch of the bizFIJI Portal, Government was breaking down barriers to information and breaking down the red tapes and bureaucracy in Government systems and processes.

In other words, Government has got standardised information now on bizFIJI Portal, which investors and the general public can access.

The service providers also know the information that is on this Portal and they cannot change their tune when investors knock on their door.

“We had not just stopped at the launch of bizFIJI, but gone a step further with the launch of their Reform Business Licensing process, which has standardised the application process across all 13 municipalities.”

There are now only two processes required for business licence. Business licences, for the first time, are not assessed the same way, but risk-based assessment is undertaken by the municipalities.

This has enabled faster and easier processing, thus leading to reduction in time and cost of doing business.

The reforms

In addition, all business licences are issued in 48 hours.

There were a number of reforms that were implemented after May 2019, such as:

  1. Registration of Companies and Tax Registration Online;
  2. Launch of Personal Properties Register;
  3. bizFIJI Portal; and
  4. Business Licence Reform.

“The World Bank Group Doing Business Report Survey cut-off date is around April-May of each year, so if the reforms have taken place before May of each year, that is not considered in the ranking, but it will be considered in the following year.

“Despite the various reforms that had taken place after May 2018, you have seen that the rank has not improved.

“It has actually dropped from 101 to 102, but we do anticipate that these reforms will be taken into consideration in the 2020-2021 Report.”

In addition, the Cabinet, last month, approved a bold target of being ranked in the top 50 in terms of doing business by the year 2025.

It now becomes the mandate of the Ease of Doing Business Taskforce to adhere to their monetary, supervisory and review role, to ensure the targets are met.

The taskforce will also articulate progress to the World Bank Group through appropriate reporting mechanism.

Over the next few months, Government will be populating bizFIJI with information in other areas of doing business, such as trading across border and paying taxes.

The new business processes that will be put online will not only be information, but will also link to those services that are available online. The end goal is to have a portal for all business-related information and approvals.

“As we modernise the way Fijians can interact with and access information on Government services and personnel, we expect that officials and civil servants will ensure the most up-to-date information is available in real time, that it is readily available and accurate for our people. That is what we owe to our fellow Fijians to ensure continued, strong and positive growth.”

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