New e-system makes process of business licensing easier, faster


THE e-Government flagship project, the Business Licensing System (BLS), is aiming to be functional by the middle of this year, giving applicants a streamlined process when applying for a new business, translating to an improvement in the Sultanate's Ease of Doing Business (EODB) rank.

Government officials, Vascco Taman, Mak Hon Sheng, and Ya-Anenawati Hj Md Yusuf, of the BLS Secretariat, briefed The Brunei Times on the current status of the project, and are hopeful that the project can be in service this year.

"Currently, the BLS is in the design stage and covers three out of the nine indicators in Ease of Doing Business (EODB), which are: Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permit and Getting Electricity," Vascco explained.

Vascco, the project manager for the BLS, said that this new system will provide an "online single window", where applicants only need to visit one place that is related to business licensing applications

"Besides that, the BLS will provide integrated forms; information hubs; a consolidated payment and standardised processes; parallel processing; easy, 24/7 access; and greater transparency," said Vascco.

Currently, without the BLS, applicants who wish to start a business has to go to 13 different agencies (should their business require all the different licenses), to get each individual license.

Mak, who is a member of the secretariat, said that if a license is required to operate a restaurant it will be listed down as well in the system.

"Example, if a person wants to start a restaurant business, the system will show all the required licenses, like the AGC (Attorney General Chambers) for the restaurant's name, Labour Department for the workers, the need for a Halal Certification and so on," said Mak.

Several of the 13 agencies include Land Transport Department; Halal Certification from the Ministry of Religious Affairs; Labour License from the Department of Labour; Department of Water Services; Department of Electrical Services; and Miscellaneous Licenses from the Ministry of Home Affairs, to name a few.

"With the BLS, they can simply apply online or at our new Business Facilitation Centres (BFC), which will be available at all four districts, where everything can be done at one place," he said.

Vascco further added: "Our objective with the BLS is to reduce the overall timeframe taken to complete a business licensing application and improve the overall TPOR (Client Charter)."

The BLS also hopes to eliminate any redundant and inefficient internal processes, and to establish an online medium for business licensing application.

Another example Vascco gave: "If you go to the ABCI (Authority of Building Control and Construction Industry (ABCI), they have their own procedures which varies from the Municipal Board, but has the same purpose."

"With our study, we are trying to streamline this process, so applicants don't get confused and uses a standardise process," he said.

Secretariat member, Ya-Anenawati added: "For an Application of Planning Permit, if it is in Municipality jurisdiction, the application must go to the Municipal Board, or if it is outside of it, then it will go through the Town and Country Planning."

The BLS, when implemented, will eliminate the need to solve this, as it is intelligent enough to identify where the application is to be sent.

With regards to a more convenient process, Ya-Anenawati gave another example, saying if an applicant has to do 12 different visits to get a license, and go from say Muara, then the agriculture office, then back to Muara, and to customs, it's a tedious process.

"With BLS, the system will do the routing for them, so applicants will just apply online and collect the licenses when it's ready at BFC," she said.

This project is also aiming to be transparent towards potential businessmen, promising applicants the ability to track and view what the status of their current application is at.

"If it is rejected, and they wish to enquire for more information, they can still be informed about the application," he said.

The proposed BLS process will go as follows: An Applicant or Qualified Person applies to the BLS; then makes online payment; which will then be submitted to the respective departments; followed by an internal process to update the BLS status; where the final application outcome is notified to the respective applicant either by mail, e-mail and SMS; that allows a notification to the applicant to collect the physical license at the BFC.

Currently, there are 30 licenses from the various departments under the BLS and the number is expected to continue rising in the future.

The BLS is a collaborative project championed by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Ministry of Home Affairs, and involves various different government and non-government agencies.The Brunei Times

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