Thu, Oct 29, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Singapore tops ‘business friendly’ list

HELP OR HAMPER:Taiwan was ranked 11th in the annual World Bank report, which looks at the regulatory environment for small and medium-sized business operations

AFP, WASHINGTON

Singapore remains the easiest place to do business, while developing countries stepped up their pace of business friendly reforms in the past year, according to a World Bank report published on Tuesday.

Singapore held onto its business friendly top ranking from last year in the Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency report, which covers 189 economies.

There were barely any changes in the report’s top 10, according to adjusted data using this year’s criteria for both this year’s and next year’s rankings.

New Zealand remained in the No. 2 position, followed by Denmark (3), South Korea (4), Hong Kong (5), Britain (6) and the US (7). Sweden moved up a notch to No. 8, switching places with Norway. Finland kept its 10th place, while Taiwan grabbed 11th place in the rankings, up eight notches from a year earlier.

The World Bank’s annual Doing Business report, now in its 13th year, looks at the regulatory environment for small and medium-sized companies to see how it hampers or helps them conduct business, from starting up and paying taxes to registering property and trading across borders.

“A modern economy cannot function without regulation and, at the same time, it can be brought to a standstill through poor and cumbersome regulation,” World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu said. “The challenge of development is to tread this narrow path by identifying regulations that are good and necessary, and shunning ones that thwart creativity and hamper the functioning of small and medium enterprises.”

By surveying and ranking economies, the 188-nation development lender hopes that its “report card” will encourage regulation that contributes to economic growth and prosperity for people.

Progress was tilted to the downside for the five emerging-market powers known as the BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

China slipped one notch to 84th place. Brazil fell to 116th from 111th and South Africa dropped four notches to 73rd.

Russia, struggling with an economy hit by the plunge in oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, moved up in the ranks, to 51st place from 54.

India advanced to 130th place from 134 last year. The IMF said in a report early this month that India was poised for the fastest growth of any other emerging-market economy this year, at 7.3 percent, thanks in part to policy reforms.

Of the 189 economies surveyed through June 1, the World Bank found improvements in regulatory frameworks in 122 of them. Among developing economies, 85 implemented 169 reforms during the past year, compared with 154 reforms the previous year.

Adding the 62 reforms undertaken by high-income economies, a total of 231 reforms were implemented, the report said.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for about 30 percent of the reforms, followed closely by Europe and Central Asia.

The bank highlighted the world’s top 10 “improvers” — economies that implemented at least three reforms during the past year and moved up the rankings scale: Costa Rica (58), Uganda (122), Kenya (108), Cyprus (47), Mauritania (168), Uzbekistan (87), Kazakhstan (41), Jamaica (64), Senegal (153) and Benin (158).

Eritrea held on to the worst ranking for businesses. The bottom 10 economies were largely in Africa, with the exceptions of Haiti (182) and Venezuela (186).

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