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S Asia modernizing business environ: WB

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Staff Reporter
Bangladesh and Pakistan have made trading across borders easier by implementing computerized systems that allow web-based submission of documents, reducing the time to export and import, said a new World Bank report released from Washington on Wednesday.
The report - Doing Business 2015: Going beyond Efficiency - finds that four of eight economies in South Asia implemented at least one regulatory reform making it easier for local entrepreneurs to do business in 2013-14.
Three countries- Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan-focused their efforts on adopting modern electronic systems to facilitate business activity.
Since 2005, all economies in the region have taken steps to improve the business environment in areas measured by the report.
India implemented the region’s largest number of regulatory reforms in that period, with 20, followed by Sri Lanka with 16.
“Doing business is easier in economies with administrative efficiency and strong regulatory protections,” said Rita Ramalho, Doing Business report lead author, World Bank Group.
“We’re encouraged by the modernization of regulatory processes in South Asia because it is benefiting local entrepreneurs. In Nepal, for example, a businesswoman trying to build a new warehouse nine years ago would have spent 143 days on the construction permitting process. Thanks to the adoption of some of the best global practices, such as a new electronic building permit system in 2013/14, this process can now be completed in 86 days.”
The report finds that India set the pace for regulatory reform in the region in 2013/14. It made starting a business easier by reducing registration fees and strengthened minority investor protections. And the electricity utility in Mumbai made getting a new connection less costly by reducing the security deposit.
This year, for the first time, Doing Business collected data for a second city in economies with a population of more than 100 million.
In Bangladesh, it now analyses business regulations in Chittagong and Dhaka; in India, in Delhi and Mumbai; and in Pakistan, in Lahore and Karachi.
The report finds that differences between cities are common in indicators measuring the steps, time, and cost to complete regulatory transactions where local agencies play a larger role.
The report this year expands the data for three of the 10 topics covered, and there are plans to do so for five more topics next year. In addition, the ease of doing business ranking is now based on the distance to frontier score.
This measure shows how close each economy is to global best practices in business regulation. A higher score indicates a more efficient business environment and stronger legal institutions.
The report finds that Singapore tops the global ranking on the ease of doing business. Joining it on the list of the top 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulatory environments are New Zealand; Hong Kong SAR, China; Denmark; the Republic of Korea; Norway; the United States; the United Kingdom; Finland; and Australia.
The annual World Bank Group flagship Doing Business report analyses regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency.
The aggregate ease of doing business rankings are based on the distance to frontier scores for 10 topics and cover 189 economies.