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Saudi reforms recognised but little progress on ‘doing business’ ranking

Saudi reforms recognised but little progress on ‘doing business’ ranking

The kingdom was among the top 20 reformers on this year’s ‘ease of doing business’ list

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Saudi Arabia was recognised as the second most reformed country over the last year among the G20 in the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business report but it still failed to make much progress in the global ranking.

The organisation noted the kingdom’s reform efforts in six areas including protecting minority investors, enforcing contracts, starting a business, cross-border trade, registering property and settling bankruptcy.

These pushed it from 63rd to 10th in the world for protecting minority shareholders and translated into improvements in the number of hours required to pay taxes (down from 67 to 47), processing time for cross border trade facilitation (90 days to 81 days) and imports (131 days to 122 days).

Saudi Arabia also rose from 105th to 83rd for worldwide enforcement of contracts, 147th to 135th for starting a business and 32nd to 24th for reducing the number of days required to register real estate.

But Despite its efforts, the kingdom still stood in 92nd in the overall ease of doing business ranking of 190 countries, a modest improvement from 94th the previous year.

In the wider Gulf, Saudi was followed by the UAE in terms of number of reforms undertaken, followed by Kuwait and Qatar with two each and Oman with one.

The UAE placed highest in the region for ease of doing business, after climbing from 26th to 21st, and ranked first in the world for getting electricity and paying taxes but was held back by its performance for starting a business (51) and resolving insolvency (69).

It was followed by Bahrain, which fell from 63rd to 66th after ranking 25th for registering property and fifth for paying taxes but 105th, 108th and 111th for getting credit, protecting minority investors and enforcing contracts.

Oman stood third in the GCC after falling from 66th to 71st. It ranked 31st for starting a business and 11th for paying taxes but 133rd, 124th and 98th for getting credit, protecting minority investors and resolving insolvency.

Qatar stood fourth in the region with a ranking of 83rd, maintaining its position from last year after taking 19th for dealing with construction permits, 26th for registering property and first for paying taxes but 133rd for getting credit, 177th for protecting minority investors, 123rd for enforcing contracts and 116th for resolving insolvencies.

Meanwhile, Kuwait was the worst for doing business in the region despite climbing from 102nd to 96th. It ranked sixth for paying taxes but 149th for starting a business, 129th for dealing with construction permits, 133rd for getting credit and 154th for trading across borders.

The top 10 was led by New Zealand followed by Singapore, Denmark, South Korea, Hong Kong, the US, UK, Norway, Georgia and Sweden.

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