Friday 31 October 2014

Singapore still 'most business-friendly economy': World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2015

By Chia Yan Min, The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2014

SINGAPORE has been crowned the most business-friendly economy in the world for the ninth year in a row.

According to the league table compiled by the World Bank, Singapore's regulatory environment is highly beneficial for entrepreneurs.

The "Doing Business" report released yesterday measures the ease of doing business in 189 economies based on 11 business- related regulations, including starting a firm, getting credit and electricity and trading across borders.

By those measures, Singapore led the pack with a score of 88.27. New Zealand was close behind with 86.91.

The rest of the top 10 comprised Hong Kong in third place, followed by Denmark, South Korea, Norway, the United States, Britain, Finland and Australia.

Entrepreneurs in Singapore need an average of 21/2 days to set up a company, while in Eritrea - the economy that placed lowest in the ranking - investors usually need about 84 days, according to the report.

Still, the World Bank report cautioned against viewing the ranking as "an all-encompassing measure of an economy's goodness".

"'Doing Business' measures a slender segment of the complex organism that any modern economy is," said World Bank senior vice-president and chief economist Kaushik Basu in a foreword to the report.

"Economic efficiency is not the only measure by which we evaluate an economy's performance," he added. "An economy can do poorly on 'Doing Business' indicators but do well in macroeconomic policy or social welfare interventions."

While the accolade "suggests that Singapore will keep its competitive edge, the country will need to brace itself for slower growth next year, being one of the most open and trade-oriented economies", said IG market strategist Ryan Huang.

Although Singapore stayed in pole position, it slipped slightly in terms of its score from last year, while the other top five economies saw improvements to their scoring, noted OCBC economist Selena Ling.

For instance, Singapore's score for the "getting credit" category did not change from last year's survey, "which likely means other countries have improved faster and are catching up in their scoring for this category".

"Keeping ahead may require pulling up (our) socks for the lagging categories," said Ms Ling.

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