PORT VILA, VANUATU – After working together to achieve business law reform, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Vanuatu’s financial services regulator have agreed to build online business registries that will lower costs, boost transparency, and make joining the formal sector much easier for local businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Once implemented, this will see Vanuatu with the most comprehensive suite of electronic registries in the Pacific,” said Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney. “This agreement recognizes our shared commitment to encourage greater access to the formal sector by small businesses and entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas.”
A memorandum of understanding signed yesterday in Port Vila with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC) will facilitate ADB’s support in the procurement, project management and implementation of the new registries. Accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from wherever there is internet access, the new online registries will enable the VFSC to deliver a more efficient and convenient service to customers.
The work will be undertaken by the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), a regional technical assistance facility co-financed by ADB, the Government of Australia and the New Zealand Government.
The VFSC originally requested support for an electronic company registry. It has since broadened the scope to include registries for other entities under its jurisdiction. These are: business names, charitable associations, trade unions, credit unions, companies and trust services providers, and foundations.
The registry rollout comes after PSDI assisted in the reform and modernization of Vanuatu’s business laws, culminating in the passage of a new Companies Act in 2012 which paved the way for the installation of the electronic company registry.
“PSDI’s assistance on the law reforms was invaluable,” said George Andrews, Commissioner of the VFSC. “We have seen the registries they have helped to establish in other Pacific countries. As regulators, VFSC is confident that Ni-Vanuatu businesses, their customers and employees will all benefit from these new technologies.”
New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will assist with training and software testing. Awareness-raising will help ensure that stakeholders including the private sector and potential entrepreneurs know about the benefits of the new laws and online tools. There will also be director training for government and statutory bodies, and for private companies.
The new laws and registries are part of a wider regional effort by ADB to assist Pacific countries to introduce company laws more suited to small island economies. Through PSDI, ADB is also supporting company law reform initiatives in the Cook Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga.
Since 2006, PSDI has been working with ADB's 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth.