business at glanceThe regulatory atmosphere for local entrepreneurs trying to start a business was made easier around the world in 2010-2011 with the greatest improvement found in several African and Eastern European countries.

The World Bank presented its annual Doing Business report at a conference in Geneva (November 23) under the title Doing business in a more transparent world. The report surveyed 183 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe comparing the regulatory environments on matters such as property rights, start-up loans, construction permits and taxes. The indices show that reforms made in the past five years in 85% of world economies made it easier to for domestic entrepreneurs to do business.

When asked why the improved regulatory indices around the world had so far had little impact on improving economies and the jobless situation, Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of Global Indicators and Analysis at the World Bank said only that the report did not include macro economic issues.

The current crisis in Eurozone countries, he said, is due to “poor management of public finances over the last 20 years." As for the US, which remains in the number four position on the Doing Business index, he said that it clearly “fails at the macro level with deficit problems creating a business atmosphere comparable to an emerging country.”

The report’s most positive results were in some unexpected places. “In Sub-Saharan Africa, 78% of the economies have adopted regulatory reforms,” said Lopez-Claros, adding that 88% of countries in Eastern Europe and Central have done the same.

Rwanda and Georgia were singled out for special mention. Rwanda’s Ambassador to the UN Mission in Geneva, Soline Nyirahabimana, said the World Bank report proves that there is something worthy evolving in Rwanda that she hoped would lead to foreign investment in her country.

Georgia’s representative in Geneva, Tina Bokuchava, said that while such reports provided excellent incentives for countries to reform their regulatory structures, what's more important is for governments to have the ‘political will’ to make changes. Georgia was rife with corruption, she said, until the current government "came to power with a mandate of change, of comprehensive reform, and in eight years Georgia has turned into a regional laboratory of reform and a global leader in economic reform".

The report noted that the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) did not do so well, although it said China continues to make progress.

The results of the report will be available on a new website permitting businesses and governments to compare and exchange information. “We call it the virtue of transparency,” said Lopez-Claros. “A minister in a given country can look at our data and say ‘hey, I didn’t know it was so complicated to get a permit (in his own country)'."


(Photo © DR)