Colombo, October 25, 2016 – Over the past year Sri Lanka made progress in two reform areas that are covered by the Doing Business report, namely Starting a Business and Protecting Minority Investors. The improvements, while important, were not enough to stop a decline in the country’s overall rank from 109 in 2016 to 110 in 2017. This is not necessarily an indicator that the country has slipped down in rank, but is more a reflection that other peer economies have undertaken a larger number of reforms in the business environment during the same period.
“Simplified processes will reduce the cost of doing business and can help to unleash entrepreneurship, which is needed to boost the economy,” said Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “While Sri Lanka has taken positive steps in reforms, much needs to be done to enable the private sector to grow and to provide equal opportunities for all.”
A total of 11 reforms, making it easier to do business, were implemented by five of eight economies in South Asia in the past year. This is significantly higher than the region’s annual average of nine reforms over the past five years. Pakistan is among the top 10 global improvers. Over the past 12 months, it implemented a total of three reforms and saw its ranking progress from 148 to 144.
India also implemented reforms across multiple areas. In the past five years, Sri Lanka has implemented the highest number of Doing Business reforms in the region, with 12 reforms in total, followed by India with 10.
Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All captures data revisions compared to previous year. Paying Taxes, Gender dimension and Protection of Minority Investors are new adjustments reflected in country rankings.
The Paying Taxes indicator is expanded this year to include post-filing processes—the processes that occur after a firm complies with its regular tax obligations. In particular, the indicator now measures the time it takes to comply with and obtain a value added tax (VAT) refund and comply with and complete a corporate income tax audit.
For the first time this year, Doing Business adds gender components to three indicators. The starting a business indicator now measures gender-specific procedures such as documents or permissions required to leave the home for work, obtain national identification or own a business. The Registering Property indicator now measures whether unmarried men and women—as well as married men and women—have equal ownership rights to property. The Enforcing Contracts indicator now measures whether a woman’s testimony carries the same evidentiary weight in court as a man’s.
Three questions in the Protecting Minority Investors indicator are revised to measure whether all members must consent to add a new member, whether a management deadlock breaking mechanism exists, and whether members meet at least once a year in limited companies.
The report cites research that demonstrates that better performance in Doing Business is, on average, associated with lower levels of income inequality, thereby reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
The full report and accompanying datasets are available at www.doingbusiness.org