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Sri Lanka has improved its position in Ease of Doing Business Index (EoDBI) to the 99th position in 2020 as per EoDBI report released by the World Bank last week. Earlier Sri Lanka was at the 100th position.

Doing Business 2020, a World Bank Group flagship publication, is the 17th in a series of annual studies measuring the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. Doing Business presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 190 economies—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe—and over time.

Sri Lanka’s ‘Doing Business score’ has improved from 61.22 last year to 61.80 in the new index. However, this is the highest ranking Sri Lanka has achieved since 2015. It had been flagging at 99th, 107th, 110th and 111th in the indexes for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. However, there was a big leap from 111th to 100th in the 2019 index. The protecting Minority Indicator improved by 10 positions to the 28th place and the Registering Property indicator improved by 2 positions to the 138th place.

In the region, Sri Lanka is now ranked ahead of Pakistan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Afghanistan; but below India, Bhutan and Nepal.

Even though, no major reforms were captured in the Doing Business 2020 report for Sri Lanka, the reform agenda was continued during the year. Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade initiated a program called Investment Climate Reform Program to Improve the Ease of Doing Business Index of Sri Lanka in May 2017. Accordingly, 8 Task Forces were established covering 8 indicators of EoDBI namely, Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits, Registering Property, Getting credit, Protecting Minority Investors, Trading Across Borders, Enforcing Contracts and Resolving Insolvency. A Road Map including the reform activities needed to implement for each area was also developed. As a result of this initiative Sri Lanka moved up 11 positions in EoDBI 2019 report to the 100th position and moved up further in EoDBI 2020 report.

The EoDBI measures time, cost and number of procedures in the business cycle. Accordingly, Sri Lanka has to perform in each indicator of EoDBI with low cost, minimum number of procedures in a minimum time to improve its ranking. As 190 economies are in the EoDBI assessment report, every country is introducing there reforms domestically to improve the ranking. The economies who introduced the reforms in a lesser time will be recognized in every year during the assessment cycle. The other important factor of the EoDBI assessment is, the reforms implemented by the government agencies are validated through independent parties who served as data providers for the report. Accordingly, public awareness is also very much important. On the other hand, the available new services like e-services should be used by the majority of the users and that should be statistically proven to the EoDBI assessment team. Therefore, it takes time to publicize the reforms and to be recognized in the EoDBI assessment reports.       

Under the reform agenda of Sri Lanka, line agencies conducted number of reforms during the year. The “e-RoC project” of the Department of Registrar of Companies was a notable one as Business Registration has become an e-Service and it is connected with Inland Revenue Department creating a single window enabling the applicants to obtain the TIN at the business registration point. The Department of Labor will also be connected to the system during the year enabling the applicant to obtain EPF number at the same time. The Department of Registrar of Companies also amended the section 9 (1) of the Companies Act removing the burden of publishing a public notice by the applicant. Registrar General’s Department also introduced a one day service for deed registration in March 2019. The Urban Development Authority completed and launched an online system to process constructions permits. A New Secured Transaction Bill is now at the Parliament for approval. The Department of Customs provides e-payment facilities and digital signatures to facilitate the Trade. Further, most of the Category ‘A’ commitments under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement has been completed by border agencies engaged in international trade. An Official Receiver was appointed by the government under the Companies Act who serves as the liquidator of last resort and the regulator of insolvency proceedings. The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade coordinates and facilitates these reform activities with relevant line agencies. The Ministry believes that these reforms will be recognized by the next EoDBI report which will be released in October, 2020 improving Sri Lanka’s EoDBI ranking further.

Board of Investments Sri Lanka                    edb                Imports and Exports Control Department           

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