Steep drop for Barbados in Doing Business Report
It has become more difficult to do business in Barbados over the past year with the country tumbling 13 places in the latest World Bank Doing Business Report, now sitting at 119th out of 189 countries.
The 13th annual report, which measured quality and efficiency, stated that Barbados “made paying taxes more costly for companies by raising the ceiling for social security contributions and introducing a new municipal solid waste tax”.
Government has since scrapped that controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
When it came to starting a business, the report ranked Barbados at 100, pointing out that the process entailed eight procedures and an average of 18 days.
Construction permits required nine procedures and took more than a year – an average of 442 days, the report said, ranking the island 158th in this category.
To measure the quality and transparency of building regulations, Doing Business looked at whether the regulations were available online, available at the relevant permit-issuing agency free of charge, distributed through an official gazette or had to be purchased.
It showed that 68 per cent of economies had their regulations online, while Barbados was one of 16 economies that required them to be purchased.
Barbados was ranked 134 when it came to registering a property. The report said six procedures were required in that process and it took an average of 118 days for completion.
Getting electricity in Barbados takes about 87 days, during which time seven procedures must be undertaken. For that, the island was ranked 87.
Caribbean nations that ranked higher than Barbados in the 2016 report included Jamaica, 64; St Lucia, 77; Trinidad and Tobago, 88; Dominica, 91; Antigua and Barbuda, 104; the Bahamas, 106; and St Vincent and the Grenadines, 111.
Regional countries that ranked lower included St Kitts and Nevis, 124; Grenada, 135; Guyana, 137; and Haiti, 182.
Barbados was ranked 106th last year, behind Jamaica, 58; Trinidad and Tobago, 79; St Lucia, 100; Antigua and Barbuda, 89; and the Bahamas, 97; but ahead of St Kitts and Nevis, 121; Guyana, 123; Grenada, 126 and Haiti, 180.
However, in the 2014 report, the island was ranked 91st, ahead of Jamaica which was at position 94.
Singapore continued to be the country with the best ease of doing business ranking. New Zealand, Denmark, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, Norway and Finland rounded off the top 10.
According to the World Bank, the best 30 performers in the report were not those with few regulations but those with “good rules that allow efficient and transparent functioning of businesses and markets while protecting the public interest”.
“Data in this year’s report also show that economies that have efficient regulatory processes as measured by Doing Business, have high regulatory quality. In addition, the economies that rank high on Doing Business indicators tend to perform well in other international data sets, such as the Global Competitiveness Index and Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index,” the World Bank’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Kaushik Basu said, pointing out that about 122 economies implemented at least one reform in the areas measured by the Doing Business Report.
The report said that while well designed regulation could facilitate transactions such as expansion, building permits or legal processes, badly designed regulation could make completing those transactions difficult.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has repeatedly complained about the difficulty in doing business here, told Parliament earlier this year that too much bureaucracy and inconsistency in Government was affecting both international and local investors. Inniss had said complained that business facilitation seemed like an elusive dream in Barbados’ economy.