Business Reform Activity Accelerates in South Asia, Says Latest Doing Business Report

October 27, 2015

WASHINGTON, October 27, 2015 – Efforts to improve the business climate in South Asia accelerated during the past year, finds the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business measurement.

Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency, released today, finds that six of the region’s eight economies implemented nine reforms during the past year, compared with six reforms in four economies the previous year.

India, the region’s largest economy, which has a global ranking of 130, implemented two reforms during the past year. For example, in Starting a Business, India eliminated the requirements for a paid-in minimum capital and a certificate to commence business operations, significantly streamlining the process for starting a business.

With the exception of Maldives, all economies in the South Asia region have now eliminated the minimum capital requirement, significantly reducing costs to set up a new business.

Bhutan and Sri Lanka also implemented two reforms each during the past year, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives undertook one reform each.

The highest number of reforms were in the areas of Starting a Business, Paying Taxes and Getting Electricity, with two reforms in each area. No reforms were recorded in the areas of Trading Across Borders, Protecting Minority Investors, Enforcing Contracts, and Resolving Insolvency.

“South Asian economies have been advancing steadily in recent years in improving their regulatory environment and making it more business friendly. In doing so, the region can stimulate both entrepreneurship and job creation for its relatively young population,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project. 

On average the region’s economies rank best in the areas of Starting a Business (with a regional average rank of 96) and Protecting Minority Investors (regional average rank of 83). On the latter indicator, India ranks amongst the world’s top 10, with a
global ranking of 8.  

The region’s weakest performance is in the areas of Enforcing Contracts and Registering Property. For example, it takes an average of 1,077 days to resolve a commercial dispute through the courts. The Doing Business report records 22 economies worldwide with resolution times above 1,000 days and four of them are in the South Asia region, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it takes entrepreneurs in the region an average 98 days to register property, which is more than twice the global average.  

This year’s Doing Business report completes a two-year effort to expand benchmarks that measure the quality of regulation, as well as efficiency of the business regulatory framework, in order to better capture realities on the ground. On the five indicators that saw changes in this report – Dealing with Construction Permits, Getting Electricity, Enforcing Contracts, Registering Property and Trading Across Borders – South Asia economies have room for improvement. For instance, on Getting Electricity, entrepreneurs in the region experience over 200 outages a year on average – the highest number globally.  

The region’s top ranked economy is Bhutan, with a global ranking of 71, followed by Nepal (99). Rankings of other large economies in the region are: Bangladesh (174), Pakistan (138), and Sri Lanka (107).  

The full report and accompanying datasets are available at

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