Singapore in 2nd place for ease of doing business: World Bank

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Singapore has retained its place as second best on a World Bank ranking for the world's easiest place to do business against a backdrop of slowing overall pace of reforms in the East Asia and Pacific region. 
OCTOBER 24, 2019 - 5:00 PM

Singapore has retained its place as second best on a World Bank ranking for the world's easiest place to do business even as the overall pace of reforms in the East Asia and Pacific region slows. 

According to the World Bank Group's latest Doing Business 2020 study, economies in the East Asia and Pacific region carried out 33 business-climate-enhancing reforms during the 12-month period to May 1.

This is 10 fewer than the previous 12-month period; reforms were implemented in fewer than half of the economies in the region (12 out of 25). 

The republic came in ahead of Hong Kong, Denmark and Korea, with the US, Georgia, UK, Norway, and Sweden rounding out the top 10 spots. The top spot went to New Zealand.

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Among other things, Singapore made dealing with construction permits easier. 

Meanwhile, China is among this year’s top 10 improving economies with the greatest number of reforms (a total of eight reforms) in the region and second most globally. Other notable reformers include Indonesia and Myanmar (with five reforms each) and the Philippines (with three reforms).

Examples of reforms they implemented include:

- China implemented reforms in the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

- Indonesia made paying taxes easier by introducing an online filing and payment system for the major taxes and made enforcing contracts easier by introducing an electronic case management system for judges. Furthermore, trading across borders was made easier by improving the online processing of export customs declarations, as a result, time to export border compliance reduced from 63 to 56 hours.

- Myanmar started publishing performance measurement reports to ease contract enforcement, in addition to introducing an online platform for company registration and reducing incorporation fees to make starting a business easier among other reforms.

With three reforms in the past year, the Philippines continued its reform momentum. Among other changes, the Philippines eliminated the minimum capital requirement for domestic firms. The country also streamlined the process for obtaining an occupancy certificate. 

Brunei Darussalam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam each carried out two reforms.

Brunei Darussalam started publishing reports measuring the performance of the Bandar Seri Begawan Intermediate Court. Among other initiatives, Lao PDR made getting electricity easier by deploying an automated Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for outage monitoring and service restoration. Vietnam upgraded the information technology infrastructure used by the General Department of Taxation, making the process of paying taxes easier for entrepreneurs.

Overall, the East Asia and Pacific economies focused reform efforts on improvements in the areas of dealing with construction permits and starting a business with seven and five reforms, respectively. The region’s economies perform well in the areas of getting credit, getting electricity, and dealing with construction permits.

Connecting a newly built warehouse to the electrical grid takes 63 days in the region, almost 12 days fewer than the average among OECD high-income economies. Likewise, getting a construction permit in the region takes 20 days fewer than among OECD high-income economies.

At the same time, the region still under-performs in several areas, such as contract enforcement, where there is need for more widespread adoption of international best practices including alternative dispute resolution systems and the creation of specialized commercial courts. Resolving a commercial dispute through a local first-instance court costs on average 47.2 per cent of the claim value, more than twice the average of 21.5 per cent among OECD high-income economies.