Starting a business and registering property

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By keeping records of a company’s formal existence and of land ownership rights, business and land registries play a critical role in any economy’s business environment. Registering a new company or a property right is best done when registry officers are well trained and knowledgeable. A combination of targeted training and effective communication to both civil servants and the public can improve the overall quality of the public goods and services provided by business and land registries.

The role of training in facilitating entrepreneurship and property rights

For the first time this year Doing Business collected data on the training and communication of changes provided to both the officers and the users of business and land registries.
Regarding registry officers, Doing Business research covered qualification requirements for civil servants, the mandatory training of officers, the frequency and duration of training and how changes in the registries are communicated to them. Data were also collected on training for registry users, including the workshops offered to new business owners and the targeted communication of registry changes to the general public.

This case study examines how training contributes to business activity by improving the quality of services provided by business registries (to entrepreneurs) and land registries (to property owners).

Training registry officers
Business and land registry officers play a key role in facilitating the delivery of highquality services to new entrepreneurs.

The systematic training of registry officers is, therefore, vital for a well-functioning registry system and the effective implementation of government policies to promote entrepreneurship.

Well-trained staff are more efficient and less prone to making errors when assessing transactions or assisting entrepreneurs.

Business registrars typically undertake a series of training programs and examinations to gain the qualifications required to perform their duties. The Canadian province of Alberta, for example, requires aspiring business registrars to complete three levels of exams to receive the highest accreditation for the Corporate Registry Electronic System. To pass these exams, students complete three online courses (costing 365 Canadian dollars — about $282 — each) through which they learn how to perform procedures such as registering limited liability partnerships and amending corporate structures, among others.

Land registrars also play a fundamental role in guaranteeing legal certainty to property rights transactions. To perform their duties local land officers need a range of technical and communication skills that can be attained through staff training programs.

Most economies regulate the position of land registrar, typically through minimum skill or education requirements. Of the 183 economies included in this case study, 74 percent require that land registrars attain a minimum level of education (usually a university degree in law), 47 percent require a professional qualification and 44 percent mandate a minimum number of years of experience. Only 15 percent of economies require a combination of four criteria — typically a minimum level of education, minimum years of experience, professional qualification and being a civil servant.

Prospective land registrars in Bulgaria, for example, must have a university degree in law, a license to practice law, evidence of moral integrity and professional standing, no record of intentional criminal offenses, and the candidate must not be an elected member of the Supreme Judicial Council.

Continuous training in business
and land registries
Most economies do not have legally binding regulation that mandates training for business registry officers (figure 3.1). Indeed, just 24 percent of the economies measured for this case study legally require professional training for business registry officers. Such requirements vary significantly among regions — nearly two-thirds (59 percent) of economies in Europe and Central Asia have a legal requirement for training, but only 11 percent of economies in the Middle East and North Africa do.

Although group classes are the most common form of training, online learning tools are used in about 5 percent of economies with a legal requirement to provide training to business registry officers. The content of the training is diverse, varying from technical skills (legislative changes, types of entities and incorporation requirements, IT skills) to soft skills (professional ethics, communication skills). In Spain, the Professional Association of Registrars offers online and in-person courses free of charge for registry officers. Topics include the legal forms and corporate structure of a company and the processes of registering or dissolving each type of company, among others.

Slightly more than half of the economies that legally mandate training also define a minimum frequency or duration of that training. In China and Romania, for example, mandatory training programs must be held annually. Registry staff typically make decisions on the duration and frequency of training programs.

The Land Administration Guidelines from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe suggest that continuous training for land registry officers be practical, available to all who require it and range from university-level courses for comprehensive professional training to short-term courses for the introduction of new techniques. Land registries should provide both formal and in-house training for employees and ensure that staff have adequate time to take advantage of training opportunities.

Training programs also succeeded in teaching new entrepreneurs managerial skills useful to the operation of their businesses.

Training is essential to convey registry service standards (procedural times, for example) so that staff understand their duties and are equipped to handle problems when they arise.
Training should not be limited to managers and supervisors. Land registry staff that interact with the public on a daily basis should also be well trained. Capacity-building training programs — such as that provided for the staff of Turkey’s land and cadaster agency in 2018 or the workshop on land records management in Thailand held in 2017 — can be important for maintaining the quality of land registry services.

Although most economies do not legally require continuous training, one-third of economies measured by this case study hold regular training programs on a variety of topics for land registry officials. Routine training is offered in 45 percent of OECD high-income economies but just 24 percent of economies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

While the topics of these training programs vary, they commonly include administrative processes (offered in 35 percent of economies with training), property rights (30 percent), new systems or innovations (27 percent) and customer service and coordination with other agencies such as the cadaster or tax authority (22 percent).

Business and land registry efficiency tends to be higher in economies where training is offered to registry staff. Economies with mandatory training for business registry officers have a score for starting a business that is six points higher on average than those without it (figure 3.2).

Furthermore, economies with annual training programs at the land registry have a higher score (by seven points on average) for registering property than economies without it.

Communicating changes
to registry officers
Changes to regulations or processes at business and land registries can be communicated to staff in various ways. At business registries, officers learn about changes to the business start-up process through workshops in 66 percent of economies; in 39 percent of economies they are informed via pilot tests. Workshops and pilot tests are also the most common means of informing staff of changes to regulations or processes at land registries; 56 percent of economies mainly use workshops for this purpose while 24 percent use pilot tests (figure 3.3).

By using pilot testing, business and land registries can identify and address potential challenges before the full implementation of new processes. Pilot tests are most commonly implemented in registries in Europe and Central Asia, where 55 percent of business registries and 41 percent of land registries use pilot testing.

A significant share of registries in the OECD high-income economies and East Asia and the Pacific also run pilot tests before implementing new processes. Pilot testing is used in less than 20 percent of economies in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Training registry officers about upcoming changes is associated with a positive impact on the business operating environment. Doing Business data indicate that it takes 12 days less on average to incorporate a business and 29 days less on average to transfer a property in economies where registry officers have received training compared to economies where no training is offered (figure 3.4).

Training registry users
Registry users also benefit from training.

As the popularity of entrepreneurial training programs has risen in recent years governments worldwide have taken steps to develop and expand such programs.

Relevance of training
for entrepreneurs
In 2014 some 230 Entrepreneurship Education and Training (ETT) programs were identified around the world; these include global initiatives like the International Labor Organization’s Know About Business and Start and Improve Your Business and regional programs like Injaz Al-Arab.

When EET programs target budding entrepreneurs, results show significant increases in self-employment, household consumption and income two years after the intervention.

Over time, evaluations find positive and significant effects of EET on business growth such as, for example, enhancing entrepreneurs’ access to credit.

Training programs also succeeded in teaching new entrepreneurs managerial skills useful to the operation of their businesses. In addition, business-support interventions for small and medium-size enterprises like training programs help improve firm performance and create jobs.

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