Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Caribbean economies lag in terms of reforms – World Bank

Published:Tuesday | December 31, 2019 | 12:17 AM

The World Bank says economies in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to lag in terms of reforms as it relates to doing business in the region.

In its flagship publication Doing Business 2020, in which the World Bank Group flagship the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it, the financial institution noted that of the 294 regulatory reforms implemented between May 2018 and May 2019 worldwide, 115 economies made it easier to do business.

“Economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean continue to lag in terms of reforms. Only two Sub-Saharan African economies rank in the top 50 on the ease of doing business; no Latin American economies rank in this group,” the World Bank noted.

“Those economies that score well on Doing Business tend to benefit from higher levels of entrepreneurial activity and lower levels of corruption. While economic reasons are the main drivers of reform, the advancement of neighbouring economies provides an additional impetus for regulatory change,” the World Bank said, noting that “26 economies became less business-friendly, introducing 31 regulatory changes that stifle efficiency and quality of regulation”.

Jamaica was the top named Caribbean Community country, ranked at number 71 of the 190 countries surveyed, followed by St Lucia (93) Trinidad and Tobago (105), Dominica (111), Antigua and Barbuda (113), The Bahamas (119), Barbados (128), St Vincent and the Grenadines (130), Guyana (134), Belize (135), St Kitts-Nevis (139), Grenada (146), Suriname (162) and Haiti (179).

The World Bank noted that economies that score highest on the ease of doing business share several common features, including the widespread use of electronic systems. It said all of the 20 top-ranking economies have online business incorporation processes, have electronic tax-filing platforms, and allow online procedures related to property transfers.

The regions with the most cumbersome tax compliance processes remain Latin America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Bank notes also that no economies from Latin America and the Caribbean appeared in the 10 top improvers list over the past two years.

“Moreover, not a single economy in Latin America and the Caribbean ranks among the top 50 on the ease of doing business. The regional leader on the ease of doing business score, Mexico, is still almost 12 percentage points below the average score of the 10 top-ranking economies,” the report said..

Globally, reforms in the areas of dealing with construction permits and getting electricity have risen sharply in recent years, peaking in 2018/19 at 37 and 34, respectively.

“In the area of getting electricity, several Caribbean countries, including Barbados and Belize, invested in training utility personnel and capacity-building,” the World Bank said, noting that the most common features of property registration reform included greater transparency of information, better reliability of infrastructure, and reduced taxes and fees.

“Across regions, economies in the Middle East and North Africa improved the most. Qatar created a one-stop shop, eliminating five procedures and lowering property transfer time by 11 days. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Jamaica reduced the cost of property registration by almost seven per cent of the property value. Brazil and Ecuador introduced electronic property-transfer systems,” the World Bank added.