New Approach by MCIL in Enhancing Services for Investors

(l-r) Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour’s Chief Executive Officer, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling and Hon. Minister Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell. (photo: MCIL)

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL) introduces modern means of improving services for business investors.

The process for setting up a business in Samoa involves three different ministries including the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL), Ministry of Customs and Revenue (MOR) as well as the Immigration Division under the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (MPMC)”, the Chief Executive Officer, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling stated.

The new initiatives by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour will deliver services in a more sufficient and customer friendly approach.

“Over the years, the Government has streamlined processes for business registration through legislative reforms, developing new mechanisms for ease of registration, and relevant ministries working collaboratively to create a business enabling environment – that is conducive for all local and foreign investors”, the Chief Executive Officer pointed out.

“Company E-Registration: Incorporation of a company can now be done online at www.businessregistries.gov.ws with a Certificate of Incorporation issued within 24 hours provided all requirements are submitted and uploaded”.

“The company is also issued with a user name and password so they could update company information from time to time should there be any changes to what was initially uploaded”.

“The information on each company is also publicly available so clients will not have to pay any fees for inspection of register”.

“Any incorporation application can be lodged by the company itself without going through a lawyer as in the old process”.

The Ministry have now setup a standard fee of SAT$250 for company incorporation, whereas in the old process, the fee was dependent on the number of shares in a company, according to Mr Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling’s response to question by Directions Samoa.

 “Foreign Employee Employment Permit (FEEP): The process for issuance of work permit has also been streamlined to ensure quick turnaround time and less costs”.

“The responsibility for assessment of FEEP’s for any foreign investor who wishes to set up a business and manages it in Samoa; as well as hiring of any foreigner by any business in Samoa is with MCIL”.

“With the old process, a fee is paid at MCIL for this permit and a separate fee also to be paid at the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Immigration Division) for residency purposes. However, this was costly and lengthy process for investors”.

“Therefore, the new process effective 2018 saw a staff from MCIL based at the Immigration office and with one fee to be paid for a FEEP”, the Chief Executive Officer made clear.

The new changes introduced are based on service areas identified to make a positive impact for the Ministry’s role under its mandate.

The changes will address the challenging process that new business investors have to go through in setting up a business in Samoa.

“Investors having to either visit the Ministry to lodge their application for company incorporation; or lodge them through email. This was a timely and costly process for the investors”.

“Any application has to be lodged by a lawyer, therefor, bearing more costs on the company”.

“There was no standard fee as it was independent on the number of shares, therefor costly for a company with many shares”.

“With the introduction of the company’s online registry, it has resulted in free and easy access to information regarding an incorporated company. The new online platform also led to better facilitation by the Ministry and time saving for both the Registrar as well as the applicants”, says Mr. Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling.

The process will compliment expectations for a growing numbers of investors anticipated to be registered in the country. The office has highlighted registered figures reaching hundreds within the past six years – total amounted to 383 registered foreign investment enterprises recorded.

“It is anticipated that the number of investors will improve over the years given the new changes; however, what influences an investor’s decision of where to invest is more than the registration process itself”, says the head of Ministry.

Pulotu highlighted the important opportunities that investors bring to the development of Samoa. He added that our country has gained financially and have been expose to skills that investors bring with them.

“The vital contribution of these foreign investment enterprises includes employment opportunities as well as finances as their capital injections into the economy of Samoa”.

“In addition, some of these businesses bring in new technology as well as advanced skills and knowledge that can be transferred to the local workforce. In addition, all fees associated with the registration process are a source of revenue collected by the Government to fund the various national developments”.

“The Ministry continues to undertake inspections to these enterprises to ensure not only compliance with relevant legislations but to also obtain updated information for any policy intervention on investment for further developments”.

The work being carried out by the ministry is aligned to the first priority under the nations development document , Strategy for the Development of Samoa. It will contribute to key outcome 3 and 5 –  Increasing Export Products and Participation of Private sector in Development Enhanced.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour has developed a brochure which outlines the process of setting up a business in Samoa. This publication can be accessed via the Ministry’s website www.mcil.gov.ws.

For further clarification on the registration process relating to company incorporation and foreign investment, please do not hesitate to contact the Industry and Development and Investment Promotion Division for the Ministry of Commerce, Infrastructure and Labour on telephone 20441 or email at [email protected].

In addition, please directly liaise with the Ministry of Customs and Revenue for any enquiries regarding the business licence process and the Immigration Division of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for information relating to residence permit required for investors.

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