M’sia is 15th-easiest place to do business

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Malaysia’s reforms undertaken over the past year saw it ranked 15th out of 190 countries by the World Bank in its latest report on the ease of doing business.

It was also among the world’s top five performers in several areas, according to the report titled “Doing Business 2019” report.

Malaysia was second only to New Zealand in the area of protecting minority investors with its perfect score of 10 on the extent of disclosure index.

The reforms of the past year covered by the report include the ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, trading across borders and resolving insolvency.

The reforms reduced the time for registering a new business from 23.5 days to 13.5 days, following the introduction of an online tax registration system.

The process of obtaining a building permit was streamlined, reducing the time needed to complete all required procedures to build a warehouse from 78 days to 54 days.

World Bank Group country director for Malaysia Mara Warwick said the reforms to improve construction permitting helped advance Malaysia to a global rank of three in the area of dealing with construction permits.

“The 54 days it now takes to obtain a construction permit in Malaysia compares to 158 days globally and 133 days on average in the East Asia and Pacific region.

“The country’s consistent effort to adopt international regulatory best practices has made this achievement possible,” he told reporters at a media briefing after the report’s launch yesterday.

Warwick said the World Bank is committed to sustaining its support for this important reform agenda going forward, with a focus on areas where entrepreneurs still experience difficulties.

Getting electricity was also made easier by eliminating the site visit for new commercial electricity connections, reducing by seven days the time it takes for a business to obtain a permanent electricity connection and supply.

An online single window platform to carry out property searches was also implemented, making it easier to transfer property.

In terms of trading across borders, the time to complete border compliance requirements has been reduced from 45 to 28 hours for exporting, and from 69 to 36 hours for importing.

This is after the country had introduced electronic forms, enhanced its risk-based inspection system, and made importing and exporting easier by improving infrastructure and the port operation system at Port Klang for the second consecutive year.

However, its senior economist Arvind Jain said Malaysia continues to underperform in the area of starting a business, with a global ranking of 122.

“Despite the reforms of the past year and other reforms in earlier years, it takes 9.5 procedures and 13.5 days to register a new business in Malaysia, compared to two procedures and 1.5 days in Singapore and 3.5 procedures and 5.5 days in Brunei, the region’s best performers.

“We hope the government will continue with their reform agenda to sustain the country’s ranking in the top 20 economies in the world,” Arvind said.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking said in a statement yesterday the ranking upgrade is a significant improvement compared to the country’s 24th ranking in the previous year.

“The government, through the Special Task Force to Faclitate Business (Pemudah), will undertake more reform initiatives to further enhance the ease of doing business in a new Malaysia that prospers through business competitiveness,” he said.

Pemudah initiates and drives regulatory reforms and improvements within the Doing Business indicator areas and its new co-chairs are Leiking and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said the structure of Pemudah will be strengthened to better address issues at the policy and execution levels.

“The membership is also being reviewed to bring greater depth of experience and more innovative (ideas) to problem-solving and the implementation and monitoring of regulatory reforms,” he said, reflecting the government’s focus on accelerating regulatory reforms to improve business competitiveness.

The Doing Business Report ranks economies based on their business regulations and the ease of doing business.