Sri Lanka has improved its position in Ease of Doing Business Index (EoDBI) to the 99th position in 2020 as per the EoDBI report released by the World Bank last week. Earlier Sri Lanka was at the 100thposition. 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 has now ranked ahead of Pakistan, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan; but below India, Bhutan and Nepal. 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 a 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 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 construction 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.