Singapore’s ten-year streak as the world’s easiest place to do business has been broken, an annual World Bank study showed. In the ‘Doing Business’ report, Singapore was pushed to second position with an overall score of 85.05.

Adding a new gender component to the three existing ones – starting a business, registering property and enforcing contracts. This provides an index of the freedom women have in business. This was done first time in the World Bank’s methodology, including a woman’s ability to own, use and transfer property. While the report did not find significant differences between the genders when it comes to doing business in Singapore, the Republic’s scores were dragged down by factors such as cost and red tape.

The annual report made normally measures regulation related to the launch, operation and expansion of private sector businesses in 190 countries, which includes factors such as getting electricity, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and labor market regulation.

New Zealand made the lead whereas Singapore was ranked second, followed by Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, and Macedonia. The former Yugoslav Republic broke into the top ten rankings for the first time. Venezuela, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia rounded out the bottom of the rankings. Paul Romer, World Bank chief economist and senior vice president, said in a statement,

Simple rules that are easy to follow are a sign that a government treats its citizens with respect. They yield direct economic benefits—more entrepreneurship; more market opportunities for women; more adherence to the rule of law.

The economists noted that the cost of acquiring space and doing business in land-scarce Singapore is very high. However, there is a trade-off between cost and Singapore’s edge in areas such as the legal system and governance. Also, it was seen that cost required to complete procedures to build a warehouse — measured as a percentage of warehouse value — was more than 3 times higher in Singapore compared with other high-income nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

By region, Europe and Central Asia boasted the highest average number of reforms per economy and “is now close to having the same good practices in place as the OECD high-income economies,” the World Bank said.

CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said paying for space is always a premium in a tiny city-state like Singapore and businesses would consider other advantages when setting up shop here, such as the country’s legal system. On the more complex process to register a property here, compared with OECD high-income countries, he alluded to Singapore’s size and the authorities ensuring that they know who owns property and for what purpose.

New Zealand gained score of  87.01 attributable to its steps undertaken to remove the cheque levy, which made paying taxes easier. But, the question is, who is willing to work in New Zealand?


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