Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ease Of Doing Business: Singapore Is Still No. 1

Source : The Business Times, September 11, 2008

SINGAPORE is tops for the third straight year globally in the ease of doing business, thanks to continual regulatory reforms, a survey by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) shows.

New Zealand is a close runner-up, followed by the United States, Hong Kong and Denmark. The top five companies have all retained their positions from last year. The Doing Business 2009 report noted that Singapore has undertaken reforms in starting a business and dealing with construction permits.

It simplified the online process for business start-ups, cutting the time required by a day, and fast-tracked the process for giving out construction permits from 102 days to 38. The survey ranks 181 economies based on 10 indicators of business regulation that track the time and cost to start and operate a business, trade across borders, pay taxes and close a business.

The rankings do not reflect areas such as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions or crime rates.

A record number of 239 reforms were identified between June 2007 and June 2008 that make it easier to do business in 113 economies.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia led the world in reforms for a fifth straight year, with over 90 per cent of its countries making reforms. Africa also had a record year for regulatory reforms, with 28 countries completing 58 reforms - more than in any other year. East Asia and the Pacific saw the biggest pick-up in the pace of reforms among regions this year. Two-thirds of its economies introduced reforms, up from less than half last year. Some 26 reforms were identified in 24 countries across the region between June 2007 and June 2008.

'Countries in the region are clearly committed to reform agendas,' said Dahlia Khalifa, a co-author of the report. 'Regardless of their stage of economic development, they are recognising the role that regulatory reform can play in staying competition while boosting entrepreneurship and job creation,' she added.

Among the world's largest emerging markets, China led with reforms that make it easier to obtain credit by expanding the range of assets that can be used as collateral, to pay taxes and enforce contracts, and retained its 83rd position. Brazil and India both eased trade processes.

In a teleconference yesterday, Sylvia Solf, programme manager of the survey, told reporters that the top 10 rankings were little changed as countries that make the list continually press for reforms as they seek to enter new markets, free trade agreements as well as to achieve cost efficiencies.

Seven Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) high-income economies, including Canada, Greece, Hungary and Portugal, made regulatory reforms this year.

Ms Solf noted that these high-income economies recognise that red tape remains an issue and are seeking ways to cut it.

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