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Vanuatu Law Reforms Culminate in Launch of Online Business Registry

News from Country Offices | 31 August 2015

PORT VILA, VANUATU – The benefits of a series of legal reforms are set to be realized in Vanuatu, with the opening today of an online service that will dramatically simplify the way business is done in the country.
 
The online business registry allows both Ni-Vanuatu and overseas investors to register a business, maintain its details, and pay fees online, reducing the average time for company registrations from more than 3 weeks to under 3 days. It was launched today by Commissioner of the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC), George Andrews, and Deputy Chairman of the VFSC Board, Lionel Kaluat, at a ceremony attended by representatives of the private sector and supporting development partners, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the governments of Australia and New Zealand. 
 
“The launch of this registry represents a fundamental shift in Vanuatu’s business environment,” said Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office. “All business entities—from newly established sole-traders to growing businesses looking to incorporate—can easily enter the formal economy, and women especially now have the option to register their business through an accessible and affordable service.” 

The legal reforms recognize new corporate structures, including one-person companies that encourage women to register a business independently, and community companies, which allow communities to run a business and ensure the profits from it, are shared fairly. 

The registry will add to Vanuatu’s international business standing and make it easier to do business in the country through search functions, which allow users to obtain important information about the status of a business, its management, and ownership structures. 

“Completion of these reforms and the availability of the services they enable through the registry is an enormous achievement for Vanuatu,” said VFSC Commissioner George Andrews. “In terms of transparency and making it easier to do business, we now have a world-leading legislative and regulatory system.”
 
The convenience of submitting annual filings via the registry, coupled with online payments and digitized reminders, is expected to increase compliance with business regulations.

The registry can be found at www.vfsc.vu or accessed through kiosks in VFSC offices. Comprehensive training programs on its use and services will be provided throughout September in Port Vila, Luganville, Malampa, Penama, Tanna and Torba with an extensive corporate governance training program to follow. 

Support for the creation of the registry and the legal reforms that underpin it have been provided by ADB’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI). PSDI is working with ADB's 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and to support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth. It is cofinanced by the Government of Australia, the New Zealand Government, and ADB.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.  In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.