Another Development Tool That’s Been Right Under Our Noses All This Time

Computers for everyone, subsidized school breakfasts, conditional cash transfers … give up … doing business. Another year, another list. The World Bank’s annual publication “Doing Business” survey has been running since 2003 and examines how countries around the world compare in some of the most important factors related to opening, running, and closing a business. Here are some fun facts:

  • In New Zealand it takes 1 day to create a business – in Suriname … 2 years.
  • The charge for registering a change of property ownership in Syria amounts to more than a quarter of the building’s entire value.
  • In Estonia it takes 3 documents and 5 days to export a good – Kazakhstan … 10 documents and 81 days.

The survey is full of fun facts that could serve as valuable talking points come awkward Thanksgiving moments in a couple weeks. A top the leader board are the usual suspects: Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, UK, and the U.S. But then it get’s interesting. Georgia enters at #13 in the world, Estonia, #17, Latvia, #24, all above highly developed nations such as France, Switzerland, Holland and Austria.

The point to all this is making it easier and cheaper to start businesses reduces informal sector reliance, creates jobs, improves productivity, and reduces corruption. Thick red tape usually equals embedded corruption. In many developing countries businesses purposely remain small to avoid onerous taxation. This of course hampers a society’s ability to grow and develop via an active tax base and keeps many small businesses trapped in informality.

Grant people access and positive incentives and they will do good things, period.  The quicker developing countries such as Georgia catch on to this, the better.


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