Brunei must ‘catch up’ with other economies

Posted on  16/09/2011  |  Media Centre

Friday, September 16, 2011

IN THE latest Ease of Doing Business survey, Brunei was ranked as one of the top 10 countries that have improved most, but the Sultanate’s Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) is aware that the country is not moving fast enough.

Minister at MIPR, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka HjBakar (picture), who was guest of honour during Asia Inc Forum’s one-day Brunei Business Forum yesterday, said during a question and answer session that the government is doing some simulation and exercises where all stakeholders are brought together to see how they can improve steps.

“We did some improvement, some streamlining but our worry is to catch up with what other (economies) are doing,” said Pehin Dato Hj Yahya.

He gave examples such as Vietnam, Rwanda and South Africa, which are economies that have been moving quickly up the ladder.

“In Ease of Doing Business (EODB), everything moves. All other countries move and are moving faster than we are. So we must take that into account. We’re not winning, and that’s why we are looking firstly at our own system. With Rwanda, they were at zero, and are moving faster, faster than all countries in the EODB (rank),” he said.

Pehin Dato Hj Yahya added: “We may be faster than ourselves previously, but we are still not fast enough to catch on what (pace) other countries are moving, with what we have done. If we move two steps, countries like Vietnam are moving four steps.”

The minister was speaking in response to a comment by Hj Shazali Dato Hj Sulaiman, chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce & Industry, who was acting as moderator for the Q&A session.

Hj Shazali mentioned that with the EODB, there are 13 procedures to comply with to start and commence a business, how would authorities ensure all agencies are working at the same pace, which will ultimately bring the time it takes to start a business to less than 50 days from 160 or 170 days.

Chairman of Asia Inc Forum, Dato Paduka Timothy Ong highlighted that in the latest EODB survey, Brunei was included in the list of top 10 countries that have improved the most.

“There are two findings. The first is that in the top 10 economies, there are three small countries: Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand. The second is that Brunei is not ranked very well, but is listed as one of the most improved,” said Dato Ong, commending MIPR’s efforts.

He added that “this shows that small countries, like Brunei, can be very highly ranked”.

Pehin Dato Hj Yahya said that the EODB National Committee, which he chairs, is composed by relevant ministries, to look specifically at improving the systems being mentioned in the EODB process.

“On the working level, we have a technical group of task forces to work on specific targets that will then flow back up to the national committee to be reviewed. Hopefully, by next assessment, we will see improvements,” he said.

On the matter of immigration and labour, and the difficulty of getting approvals with regard to foreign workers, the minister said that it is also one of the issues they are tasked to look at.

“Simplifying the process of quotas is one of them. One of the things that we rank poorly at is also closing of businesses because we have no system on bankruptcy and closure. So those are the few elements and one of them is labour quota that we are looking at,” he explained.

The Brunei Times

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