Lao PDR Implements Reforms to Improve Business Environment

October 26, 2016

East Asia and Pacific Makes Steady Progress to 
Improve Business Environment: Doing Business Report

VIENTIANE, October 26, 2016 – Economies of East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) region are steadily making progress to ease the process of doing business, finds the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business report. While Lao PDR has implemented reforms this year, other countries have reformed faster. As a result, Lao PDR’s rank on the ease of doing business has moved to 139 in the Doing Business 2017 report, compared to 136 the year before. The reforms undertaken by Lao PDR made the process of starting a business faster by implementing simplified procedures for obtaining a license and a registered company seal. Lao PDR also improved in the area of Getting Electricity by starting to fully record the duration and frequency of outages. 

Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All, released today, finds that over two-thirds of the East Asia and Pacific region’s 25 economies implemented 45 reforms in the past year to make it easier to do business, compared to 28 reforms the previous year.

Four economies in the East Asia and Pacific region rank among the top 10 economies globally in the Doing Business rankings. The top-ranked economies are New Zealand (at 1), followed by Singapore (2), Hong Kong SAR, China (4) and the Republic of Korea (5).

“Lao PDR is making progress on improving its business climate,, but it is very important for Lao PDR  to continue these reforms to help the country sustain its high growth and make it more inclusive for businesses to flourish and create more jobs in the country,” said Sally Burningham, World Bank Country Manager for Lao PDR.

In East Asia and the Pacific, notably, two economies -- Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia, are among this year’s top 10 improvers in the world.

Indonesia, which implemented seven reforms during the past year, made starting a business easier by abolishing the minimum capital requirement for small and medium-size enterprises and by encouraging the use of an online system to reserve company names. As a result, it now takes 22 days to start a business in Jakarta, compared with 47 days previously.

Brunei Darussalam, which implemented six reforms in the past year, increased the reliability of power supply by introducing an automatic energy management system for the monitoring of outages and the restoration of service. Additionally, businesses can now get electricity faster due to the utility in Brunei Darussalam streamlining the processes of reviewing applications. As a result, a business can get connected to the grid in 35 days, compared to 56 days previously. 

And Vanuatu, which undertook four reforms, made starting a business easier by removing registration requirements and digitizing the company registry.

New reforms across sectors in the East Asia and Pacific Region are the stepping stones to enhance business activity. Despite a marked improvement from last year, economies in the region still have improvements to make in order to ease the business climate for local entrepreneurs,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project.

Challenges remain particularly in the areas of Starting a Business, Trading Across Borders and Enforcing Contracts. For example, it takes on average 57 hours to comply with border regulations for exports in the region, this is significantly longer than the average time of 12 hours it takes in OECD high-income economies.

This year, for the first time, Doing Business includes a gender dimension in three of the 10 topics covered: Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts. The report finds that, in those areas, few East Asia and Pacific economies have gender barriers, and no such barriers exist in Lao PDR.

In addition, the Paying Taxes indicator has been expanded to cover post-filing processes, such as tax audits and VAT refund. Many East Asia and Pacific economies perform well in these areas. For instance, the VAT refund compliance time is less than 5 hours in five of the economies in the region, compared to the global average of 14 hours.

The full report and accompanying datasets are available at

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