Economies of the East Asia and Pacific region are steadily making progress to ease the process of doing business, finds the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business report.
Equal Opportunity for All, finds that over two-thirds of the region’s 25 economiesi implemented 45 reforms in the past year to make it easier to do business, compared to 28 reforms the previous year. Four economies in the East Asia and Pacific region rank among the top 10 economies globally in the Doing Business rankings. The top-ranked economies are New Zealand (at 1), followed by Singapore (2), Hong Kong SAR, China (4) and the Republic of Korea (5). Notably, two economies from the region, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia, are among this year’s top 10 improvers in the world. Indonesia, which implemented seven reforms during the past year, made starting a business easier by, among other things, abolishing the minimum capital requirement for small and medium-size enterprises and by encouraging the use of an online system to reserve company names.
As a result, it now takes 22 days to start a business in Jakarta, compared with 47 days previously. Brunei Darussalam, which implemented six reforms in the past year, increased the reliability of power supply by introducing an automatic energy management system for the monitoring of outages and the restoration of service. Additionally, businesses can now get electricity faster due to the utility in Brunei Darussalam streamlining the processes of reviewing applications. As a result, a business can get connected to the grid in 35 days, compared to 56 days previously. And Vanuatu, which undertook four reforms, made starting a business easier by removing registration requirements and digitizing the company register. “New reforms tackling multiple barriers to business in the East Asia and Pacific region are the stepping stones to enhance business activity.
Despite marked improvements, economies in the region still have improvements to make in order to ease the business climate for local entrepreneurs,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project. The Philippines has improved the transparency of building regulations. It has also made paying taxes easier by introducing an online system for filing and paying health contributions, and by allowing for online corporate income tax and VAT returns to be completed offline. “Authorities have worked toward simplifying business regulations in the Philippines,” said World Bank Country Director for the Philippines, Mara Warwick. “This is important for the economy to ensure small and medium enterprises can flourish and create jobs for millions of Filipinos.” Challenges remain particularly in the areas of Starting a Business, Protecting Minority Investors and Enforcing Contracts.
For example, it takes 28 days to start a business in the Philippines, compared to 21 days on average at the global level. This year, for the first time, Doing Business includes a gender dimension in three of the topics covered: Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts. The report finds that, in those areas, few East Asia and Pacific economies have gender barriers.
The exceptions include Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam, where extra procedures are required for married women to start a business. In addition, the Paying Taxes indicator has been expanded to cover post-filing processes, such as tax audits and VAT refund. Many East Asia and Pacific economies perform well in these areas. There are exceptions however. Tax audit compliance time, for example, is high in Thailand and Timor-Leste, and compliance with a VAT refund process is time-consuming in Tonga as well as Fiji.
The full report and accompanying datasets are available at www.doingbusiness.org (WORLDBANK.ORG) – See more click here.