1 December 2014

NEWS RELEASE: Tonga’s Innovative Online Business Registry Goes Live – ADB

Business Service Centre of Tonga’s Ministry of Commerce, Tourism & Labour
NUKUʻALOFA, TONGA – The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga launched the region’s first integrated online business registry today, providing up-to-date information on Tongan companies and businesses to the public 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week.

The site was launched by Mrs. Vaimoana Fakatulolo, CEO of Tonga’s Ministry of Commerce, Tourism & Labour, 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 new website, now live at www.businessregistries.gov.to, allows users to file and access company records, business names and business licenses all from the one integrated resource, from wherever there is internet access.

“Tonga is the first Pacific Island country to provide an electronic database for all its business entities,” said Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney. “With this innovative registry Tongans can now file their documents and search the registry online. Tonga now leads the Pacific in the provision of company and business records and information.”

This ease of access helps to ensure a more efficient, transparent and convenient service to customers. To ensure continued universal access, the ministry has confirmed that paper filings will continue to be accepted as in the past.

The project was supported by the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), a regional technical assistance facility co-financed by ADB, the Government of Australia and the New Zealand Government. Technical assistance to the rollout was also provided by the New Zealand Companies Office.

The launch follows PSDI’s assistance in reforming and modernizing Tonga’s business laws, which paved the way for the online registries. PSDI has also supported Tonga on secured transactions reform, with enabling legislation passed in September 2010, and the establishment in April 2011 of Tonga’s online Personal Property Securities Registry at https://ppsa.to.

Tonga’s registries are the most recent example of a wider regional effort by PSDI to assist Pacific countries to introduce company laws more suited to small island economies. Established in 2006, PSDI works with ADB's 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth.

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 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including co-financing of $6.6 billion.