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Lax registration set to improve Lao business environment

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The Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce unveils a new plan that will cut registration time to 10 working days. VIENTIANE TIMES

Lax registration set to improve Lao business environment

INVESTORS and business operators in Laos will no longer find it so difficult to register their enterprise after the Ministry of Industry and Commerce unveiled a new plan that will cut the registration time to 10 working days.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Mrs Khemmani Pholsena issued the ministerial agreement on enterprise registration on January 9 and the measure will be enforced from February 1.

The purpose of the agreement is to standardise business registration across the country, to facilitate business operation by reducing the numbers of steps and time taken to set up a new business, and to boost and attract domestic and foreign investment.

A senior official at the registration and enterprise management department, Mrs Chiengkham Thongpasert, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday the new mechanism targets the establishment of new enterprises and business activities.

Mrs Chiengkham explained how the new system would improve the business environment.

“The new mechanism will cut the steps involved in processing documents. This will benefit business operators as it means they won’t have to coordinate the registration process so many times,” she said.

Under the existing regulations, if companies or investors want to establish a business, they need to register at the registration and enterprise management department.

But before a registration document can be issued, the authority has to prepare a set of official letters to be submitted to other departments that have to approve the business proposal. If they give permission, registration officials can issue a registration document to the applicant.

Mrs Chiengkham said her department in the past had to wait for permission from other departments before they could issue the registration document.

“If authorities at other state departments did not respond, we could not issue the registration,” she added.

“The new agreement will cut out the need to submit documents from our department to other departments. This means the registration and enterprise management department can issue business registration to investors or companies within 10 working days. But after that they have to get an investment licence from the sector they plan to invest in,” she said.

Companies or investors that have completed business registration but want to change their investment or business operation licence will need to submit the original documents to the industry and commerce sector that issued the original registration within five days, to update the database record.

The ministerial agreement is part of measures being taken to comply with regulations and laws – especially Prime Minister’s Order No 2 issued in February last year – that are intended to improve regulations and coordination mechanisms governing business operations in Laos.

Registration is a prerequisite for the establishment of private and individual enterprises by domestic and foreign investors in Laos. A business will be registered only one time.

The agreement requires the registration and enterprise management department to coordinate with other sectors for its effective implementation. It also requires the departments of industry and commerce in Vientiane and the provinces, and district offices of industry and commerce to implement the new system in line with their responsibilities.

The agreement replaces the ministerial introduction No 0537 issued in May last year on the establishment of private and individual businesses, which was related to authorisation for investment and business operations, according to the prime ministerial decree.

Under Article 5 on the principle and registration of enterprises, every business operating in Laos must be registered, except those whose registration is not required by law.

Registration must be carried out according to the kind of business involved. If a business is not on the Controlled List or involves a concession process, authorities can register a business under Article 16 of the Enterprise Law. This means registration officials can register a business without seeking permission from other authorities.

After obtaining registration, businesses that do not need to ask for business permission can start operations. This will be referred to on the back page of the registration document.

Businesses that require investment or business permission, investors, and business operators will need to get a licence from the relevant authorities. The registration authority will issue an introduction document that will outline the business details on the back page of the registration document.

If a business is included in the Controlled List or requires a concession, the business operator must follow the steps and conditions listed in the Investment Promotion Law. VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK (ANN)

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