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Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources

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Goal: To Be In Top 20 Economies By 2013

Wednesday, 16 November 2011, Bandar Seri Begawan -
Brunei wants to climb the Ease of Doing Business 
scorecharts and in two years join the top 20 economies in the rankings prepared by the World Bank, the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources said yesterday.

To achieve this goal, the government and the private sector together need to look at systemic weaknesses in rules and regulations governing business and address them, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Haji Yahya Begawan MudimDato Paduka Haji Bakar said during a workshop and technical discussion on the ease of doing business in Brunei.

Pehin Dato Hj Yahya told the participants that it was "not enough to say what has been done" to improve Brunei's rankings in the annual study. "Our purpose is to learn from what the others have done better than we do.

"This is a message I want to convey, that it is not about what you have done or (criticising) the figures and saying that they are not correct," he added, noting that the World Bank plays no part in contributing to the figures. "It is from systemic weaknesses and this is something that we have to improve, and it is not enough that we do things the way we do, but we have to catch on faster than what the other countries are doing."

In the 2012 World Bank's Doing Business Report, Brunei ranked 83rd out of 183 economies, which was a 29-point improvement from the previous' report.

The recent report highlighted improvements in four indicators, including Registering Property and Trading Across Borders.

"Despite these improvements, the overall scores are still relatively low, and Brunei has slipped down five indicators in Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permit, Protecting Investors and Resolving Insolvency (Closing a Business)," said Pehin Dato Hj Yahya who chairs Brunei's Ease of Doing Business Steering Committee. These five indicators are crucial in attracting foreign direct investments and the "low scores and deterioration of rankings", he said, are a great concern to him.

To improve Brunei's business environment, it would require improvements across different agencies and after looking at the different sets of regulations and procedures, there is a need for focus, cooperation and coordination, he said.

"I strongly feel that we are moving in the right direction, however, whatever reforms and improvements the government agencies put in place will mean little if the stakeholders, namely the business community, is not aware of them and cannot fully reap the benefits," he said.

In pursuing Brunei's 2013 target, he said: "This would mean that all the KPIs (key performance indicators) have to be moved, and moved to top positions to bring our rankings up, and it is a task but we have to do it."

Two representatives from the World Bank facilitated the workshop Sylvia Solf, program manager of the Doing Business project and author of the Doing Business Report from 2009 to 2011, and Jean MichelLobet, co-author of the Doing Business Report and Private Sector Development Vice-President.

"From our standpoint we know that there are a lot of initiatives going on, and actually some of them have not been captured because our data is effective as of May this year," said Solf. She added that Brunei has had the agencies working closely with the private sector about the changes being made.

"We talked a lot about commitments in terms of approval times for specific applications, and putting the timelimit online, and processing the approvals on time, and ultimately it is the private sector that will want to see the improvements and will recognise them if they are in place," she said.

Asked about whether the systems need to be viewed again from the ground up, Solf said that based on her impression, it is already being done that way.

"We spoke just now and they have been engaging particular licensing and engaging with the private sector in the country and not just the city and that seems to be the right way to go," said Solf.

She added that with the formation of Brunei's steering committee to look specifically into regulatory reform, this would be the opportune time to look into the action plan for the next two or three years, and to see what areas need to be focused on.

Written by: Debbie Too
The Brunei Times 

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