The FINANCIAL -- New Zealand tops the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business ranking, implementing one reform in the area of Paying Taxes.
Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All, released on October 25, also finds that high-income OECD economies continue to offer the most efficient regulatory framework for entrepreneurs and continue to carry out reforms to further improve their competitiveness.
In the past year, 17 of the 32 OECD high-income economies implemented 23 reforms, the majority of which were in the areas of Paying Taxes (eight reforms) and four each in Starting a Business and Enforcing Contracts.
Five economies in the OECD high-income grouping implemented reforms in multiple areas: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and Spain. For example, the Czech Republic now allows notaries to directly register companies through an online system, further easing the process of starting a business. As a result of this, the time needed to start a business in the Czech Republic has been reduced to nine days, from 15 days a year ago.
OECD high-income economies dominate the Doing Business rankings scale. Besides New Zealand in the top spot this year, other OECD economies in the top 10 are Denmark (ranked third), Republic of Korea (5), Norway (6), United Kingdom (7), United States (8) and Sweden (9)
Doing Business data shows continued efforts by governments to make it easier to do business in OECD high-income economies. For example, starting a business now takes an average of 8 days in OECD high-income economies, compared with 11 days five years ago, while paying taxes now involves 11 payments on average, compared with 13 payments five years ago.
“The OECD high-income group continues to set best regulatory practices worldwide. It is also encouraging to see that economies in Europe's southern periphery and eastern perimeter most actively reformed in the past 12 months,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, which produces the report. “However, there is room for improvement. Access to finance remains the biggest obstacle for OECD firms, yet no reforms have been undertaken in the area of Getting Credit in the last couple of years.”
This year, for the first time, Doing Business includes a gender dimension in three areas: Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts. The report finds that OECD high-income economies have almost no regulations that impose specific additional barriers to female entrepreneurs. Chile is an exception, where married women do not have equal ownership rights to property as men.
The report also includes an expansion of the Paying Taxes indicator, which now covers post-filing processes, such as tax audits and tax refunds. OECD high-income economies perform well on these new measures. There are notable exceptions, however, as compliance time for VAT refunds is considerably high in Italy, as is tax audit compliance time in Chile and Japan.