CAIRO: Egypt jumped 11 places in aggregate rankings on the ease of doing business and scored the world’s 10th business reformer this year, according to the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2009 Report.
“Egypt was once again among the top 10 global reformers – the third time in four years – and top regional reformer this year, the report said.
“Egypt has implemented one-stop shops for import/export and business start-up, undertaken sweeping tax reforms, continually improved its credit information systems, and modified listing rules of the Egyptian Stock Exchange [further protecting minority shareholders], it continued.
The report also cited that Egypt made starting a business easier by reducing the paid-in minimum capital requirement by more than 80 percent, abolishing bar association fees, and automating tax registration.
“A new building code introduced in 2008 is aimed at reducing procedures and time required to deal with construction permits by establishing a single window for processing construction-related approvals, stated the report, adding the Egypt has cut time taken to register property in Cairo to 72 days, down from 193.
Business reforms also spread to Alexandria, where its ports continued to upgrade facilities and speed up customs clearance, reducing time to export by one day and time to import by three days.
The report amended regulations to establish Egypt’s first private credit bureau that facilitates access to credit as well as enables borrowers to inspect their data.
On such efforts, Egypt placed 114 out of 181 countries surveyed in the World Bank’s global rankings on the ease of doing business, up from last year’s 125th position.
“Doing Business 2009 is the sixth in an annual series of reports published by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). It investigates regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. It also presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 181 economies.
“Economies need rules that are efficient, easy to use, and accessible to all who use them. Otherwise, businesses are trapped in the unregulated, informal economy, where they have less access to finance and hire fewer workers, and where workers lack the protection of labor law, said Michael Klein, the World Bank/IFC’s vice president for financial and private sector development.
“Doing Business encourages good rules, and good rules are a better basis for healthy business than ‘who you know,’ he added.
This year’s report covers 10 indicators of a business cycle as they apply to domestic small and medium-sized enterprises. These are starting a business, dealing with construction permits, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business.
However, rankings do not reflect a country’s security, macroeconomic stability, currency volatility, corruption and crime rates, investor perceptions, labor skills or quality of infrastructure.
Egypt made improvements in six of the 10 indicators covered by the report this year, qualifying it as the world’s 10th and the region’s top reformer of business regulations. Areas of reform this year are starting a business, issuing construction permits, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors and trading across borders.
Last year, Egypt scored the world’s top reformer – spurring celebration among Cabinet leaders – but was outpaced this year by countries such as Azerbaijan and Belarus.
Regionally, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia emerged as the Middle East’s other leaders in reforming regulations, following Egypt. However, both countries surpassed Egypt in aggregate rankings of the ease of doing business. Saudi
Arabia scored 16, while Tunisia scored 73. “Many economies, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are consistently making improvements and are advancing in the global rankings. Across the region, countries are making it easier to do business by looking to early pacesetters for ideas on how to reform, stated Dahlia Khalifa, co-author of the report.
The region’s most popular area for reform this year is business start-up, with nine economies making improvements. Yemen implemented one of the boldest reforms, reducing the world’s second-highest minimum capital requirement and launching a one-stop shop for business start-ups, the report noted.
The next most popular area for reform – credit bureau enhancements that improve access to credit – saw activity in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank and Gaza.
“Economies worldwide are increasingly committed to regulatory reforms, and this is evident in the Middle East and North Africa, the region with the second-largest share of economies that made it easier to do business, Khalifa added.
Globally, Singapore tops the global rankings on the aggregate regulatory ease of doing business for a third consecutive year. New Zealand is runner-up, and the United States came in third.