Singapore still No. 1 in World Bank's business-friendy list

The Business Times

SINGAPORE - Singapore has once again taken pole position for being the most business-friendly country for the eighth year, ahead of Hong Kong and New Zealand, which remained second and third respectively.

The Republic's trading platform, TradeNet, was also singled out by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as an example of "global good practice".

In the World Bank's annual ranking which assesses 189 economies using 10 indicators, Singapore ranked first for trading across borders, second for protecting investors, and third for starting a business, dealing with construction permits and getting credit.

Singapore performed the worst in registering property, where it ranked 28th. This currently takes five procedures over 5.5 days, costing 2.9 per cent of property value. In Georgia, the top economy for registering property, it takes just one procedure over two days with zero cost.

Nevertheless, the report noted that Singapore has made transferring property easier by introducing an online procedure for property transfers. It has also improved its credit information system by guaranteeing through the law borrowers' right to inspect their own data.

Said Babatunde Onitiri, IFC's country manager for Singapore: "Singapore offers the most business-friendly environment for local entrepreneurs; the government promotes policies that encourage entrepreneurship and facilitate business, thus attracting more investors to start businesses in this country.

"Other developing countries in East Asia and the Pacific can learn much from Singapore's best practices."

The report also studied TradeNet, Singapore's trade platform that started operations in 1989, making it one of the first economies worldwide to adopt a single window concept.

The single window concept improves information flows by sharing needed information across all parties involved, ranging from banks to immigration and vehicle registration authorities. Otherwise, traders would have to spend time shuttling between government agencies such as customs and port authorities, it noted.

The report also features Malaysia's electronic system for paying taxes, which has reduced the administrative burden of complying with corporate tax obligations. The country ranked sixth.

Elsewhere in ASEAN, the Philippines was one of the most improved economies, at 108 this year, while Myanmar, included for the first time, was No 182.

Augusto Lopez-Claros, World Bank director of global indicators and analysis, said of the latter: "The data show that there is considerable scope for reform, and efforts are under way to improve the country's business regulations. By removing bottlenecks to firm creation and growth, governments can signal the emergence of a more business-friendly environment, as has already been done in a large number of economies in the region."


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