World Bank survey puts Poland as globe's top reformer

By bne IntelliNews October 23, 2012

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Poland led the global pack in 2011-12 in terms of business friendly reform, according to the World Bank's Doing Business 2013 report released on October 22, followed closely by a host of other states from CEE and Central Asia as they push towards convergence, it claims. The achievement is all the more notable given countries are generally making their economies more open and easier to navigate even in the midst of a crisis.

Overall, the report notes continued convergence between the world's best and worst places to do business, as globalization drives investment to wherever it is most welcome. At the same time, the crisis-struck Eurozone is also reforming, the World Bank notes. "Part of the solution to high debt is the recovery of economic growth," the report states, "and there is broad recognition that creating a friendlier environment for entrepreneurs is central to this goal. European economies in distress are making efforts to improve the business climate, and this is beginning to be reflected in the indicators tracked by Doing Business, with Greece being among the 10 economies that improved the most in the Doing Business measures in the past year."

While the usual countries lead the ratings - Singapore came out top for the seventh year in a row, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United States and Denmark - Poland led a host of CEE/CIS states to dominate the top 10 rankings for the most improvement in conditions for entrepreneurs in 2011-12.

In the region, 88% of countries improved business regulations over the year, according to the annual report, with six of the top ten improvers set in the region. Following Poland are Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Burundi, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Greece, Serbia and Kazakhstan. Poland's biggest progress in the individual categories in the report were seen in property registration, paying taxes, enforcing contracts and business insolvency proceedures. "Places like Poland are still lagging behind," claims Augusto Lopez-Claros of the team that wrote the report, according to Reuters. "They want to be future members of the (Eurozone), or they want to be able to compete once they get going. One aspect of being able to compete is to improve your institutions (and) your business environment."

Poland is now the 55th best place to do business, up from 62nd place last year. Although still lagging at 65, the Czech Republic joined Poland on the list of top 50 improvers, recording progress on property registration, paying taxes, import/export and labour market conditions. Slovakia, which sits top of the Visegrad mini-league at 46th, also earned praise for its labour market reform, although some of the progress has likely since been repealed by the incoming Smer government. Hungary also recorded improvement in three of the 20 categories, to leave it one place ahead of the Poles.

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