World Bank says CEE and Central Asia lead in business reform

By bne IntelliNews September 10, 2009

bne -

In the World Bank's latest "Doing Business" report, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia led all other regions in the pace of reforms.

The report, "Doing Business 2010: Reforming through Difficult Times", found that 26 out of 27 economies in the region reformed regulations to create more opportunity for domestic firms. Globally, a record 131 of the 183 economies surveyed reformed business regulations between June 2008 and May 2009.

The region was the most active worldwide in reforming insolvency regimes and easing access to credit. Six economies improved their insolvency regimes: Albania, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Tajikistan. Seven reformed their credit information systems: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Latvia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Tajikistan, and Turkey. The Kyrgyz Republic and Poland strengthened the legal rights of borrowers and lenders.

"Governments in Europe and Central Asia continue implementing regulatory reforms as part of their long-term strategies, despite the many challenges of the past year," said Neil Gregory, advisor for the financial and private sector development of the World Bank Group. "They recognize that the quality of business regulation helps determine how easy it is to reorganize troubled firms, rebuild entrepreneurs' confidence, and start new businesses."

Reform activity among developing economies in the region has been the strongest since 2004. The Kyrgyz Republic, the region's leading reformer, moved up in the global rankings from 80 to 41 on ease of doing business, by implementing reforms in seven of the 10 areas measured by the report. Among other things, it expedited the issuance of construction permits and eased business start-up and property registration.

This year Rwanda was the top global reformer. There were 4 new reformers among the global top 10: Liberia, the United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan and Moldova. Others, aside from Rwanda, include Egypt, Belarus, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Colombia.

"Reforms continue to move eastward across the region. Albania, Belarus, the Kyrgyz Republic, and FYR Macedonia implemented reforms in several areas for the third year in row," said Svetlana Bagaudinova, an author of the report. "Inspired by their neighbours, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, and Tajikistan have also picked up the pace of reform."

Doing Business analyzes regulations that apply to an economy's businesses during their life cycles, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors. For example, it does not measure security, macroeconomic stability, corruption, skill level, or the strength of financial systems.

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