Russell Bedford supports compilation of 2017 World Bank Doing Business report

October 2016

Member firms of global professional services group Russell Bedford have again assisted the World Bank in compiling its annual Doing Business report, with some 40 member firms and correspondents contributing information on tax regulation, recent reforms and the comparative compliance burdens on entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide.

Now in its 14th year, the World Bank Doing Business report assesses regulations affecting domestic enterprises in 190 economies, ranking each on the basis of key criteria impacting the ease of doing business in any jurisdiction. While this year's report does not include labour market regulation, it does cover the comparative ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Russell Bedford member firms have contributed to the report's Paying Taxes survey since 2009.

The new report, Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunities for All, is the first to examine the impact of regulation on female entrepreneurs, measuring disparities in their experience of starting a business, registering property, and enforcing contracts. The report shows 155 economies in which women do not have the same rights as men; 23 economies in which women face different requirements in establishing a company; 16 in which they have different property rights; and 17 in which women do not have the same legal status in court.

On a more positive note, the report shows 137 jurisdictions having improved their regulatory environments, the majority of these reforms being aimed at easing the process of starting a business. Europe and Central Asia - as last year - again proved to be the most dynamic in terms of introducing reforms. This year's report did contain one major surprise: while nine of the world's top 10 economies remain unchanged (Macedonia replaces Finland in 10th place), Singapore is knocked off the top spot by New Zealand.

The report's Paying Taxes survey is this year extended to cover post-filing processes - including the complexities involved in securing VAT refunds and correcting errors on corporate tax returns: an error in a tax return being found to trigger an audit in 74 economies, and likely to involve an extensive audit of the tax return in 38 of these.

Alan Bezzant, CEO of Russell Bedford International, commented: "The World Bank Doing Business project is to be commended in now reflecting more of the real-world compliance issues well-known to entrepreneurs and their advisers. The time involved in pursuing perfectly legitimate claims is a genuine burden on business growth, particularly in those developing economies least able to sustain it."

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