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Harsha de Silva aims to introduce new measures in the Ease of Doing Business Rankings this year

Encouraged by last year’s success in advancing in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, the Government is set on accelerating the automation process aimed at educating systems in key institutions, to further improve the country’s ranking this year.

“We have been able to jump 11 places last year, to reach 100 out of 199 places in 2018. I wish it was more, but this is still a huge improvement, this year we expect it to be even a bigger jump,” Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Dr. Harsha de Silva told journalists.

“We have 8 working groups working on the various process improvements. We really pushed hard last year, and are doing so this year. I expect an even bigger jump this year.”

The Government is planning to carry out several ICT improvements in processes in customs, and linking the Registrar of Companies and Inland Revenue Departments to improve current systems and processes, Dr. de Silva said.

As one of the key steps, the Government aims to take several processes of the Inland Revenue Department online this year.

Taxpayers will be able to receive their TIN when they process the Registration of Company (ROC) from the end of February, while online payments will be available for Inland Revenue Department processes from the end of March onwards, Inland Revenue Department Deputy Commissioner A. A. Dayaratna said.  

The automation in the IR department will also help with the hassle businesses now face in tax calculations, filing, and getting refunds, Dr. de Silva pointed out, noting that the move will help improve the country’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.

Moves are also underway to improve, automate, and link the Urban Development Authority, Land Registry, and Colombo Municipal Council, to simplify the process of obtaining development permits required for construction and other development work in the country.

The building application process has completely gone online with e-payment facilities as well. However, consumers are not aware of the facilities available, UDA Deputy Director General Bandula Ranatunga said.

The Land Registry office in Colombo is already online, cutting down the verification time of a deed from 14 days to completing the process in real time. Several other Land Registry offices around the country are being digitalized this year, with aims to be linked later.

The Minister also aims to ensure that information is available online to create awareness on systems and processes. “There is a lot of confusion about how to go about things, so we are looking at making the information more accessible through online resources as well,” he said.

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