Every year, the World Bank produces a report on the ease of doing business in 178 countries, ranking them from 1 to 178. The World Bank uses several criteria to determine the rankings, but factors taken into consideration include the ease of hiring employees, the ease of starting a new venture to the ease of putting a company into bankruptcy.
Singapore tops the list as the number one place to start and run a business in the world, closely followed by New Zealand and the USA. The factors that helped Singapore to this slot are “Employing workers” and “Trading across borders.” Although, having recently discovered that the famous Raffles “Singapore Sling” cocktails are now automatically dispensed by a machine rather than hand made, I feel the position is unwarranted. What is the world coming to? Personally, I feel at least one of the criteria should be, “best cocktails.”
Perhaps more interesting to property investors is the top reformers report. Singapore has already been through a major property value upswing, whereas changes in the tax and property laws in places like Egypt and China will likely create a more investor-friendly environment.
China. New property laws have put private property rights on an equal footing with state properties, and electronic processing of building permits have reduced delays by at least two weeks.
Egypt. Property registration fees have been reduced from 3% to a low, fixed fee and the bureaucracy involved in obtaining construction permits has been slashed to a minimum.
Croatia. Two years ago, it took nearly three years to register a property in Croatia. The time has now been cut to less than six months.
Ghana. A property in Ghana can now be registered in less than a month compared to six months previously.
Most of the reforms are aimed at reducing the sometimes tortuous paperwork required to buy and register properties and pay taxes. Some of the most serious obstacles to investing in the “top reformers” category are slowly but surely being whittled away and replaced with far simpler processes, and in some cases, the paperwork can be filed electronically, creating a massive reduction in time and money spent. The full report is here and available for free download in PDF format. And perhaps next year, the World Bank will heed my advice and include a cocktails section?