Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced the release of the 2007 Ease of Doing Business Index, in which Saudi Arabia maintained its status as the top ranked MENA country. The Kingdom ranked 38th, keeping pace with its performance from the previous year. This is despite substantially increased competition from both previously ranked countries and a total of 20 new rivals.
Following upon the recently published Arab Establishment of Investment Guarantee’s recognition of Saudi Arabia as the top importer of FDI in the Arab world, the IFC ranking confirms the country’s standing as an attractive investment environment.
The Doing Business report is an extensive comparison of 175 countries’ regulations that enhance or constrain a company’s ability to invest, increase productivity, and grow.
The Kingdom’s top performance amongst MENA countries (Kuwait ranks 46th, Oman 55th, UAE 77th, Jordan 78th, and Tunisia 80th) is driven by several key parameters:
– In ease of “Registering Property”, Saudi Arabia ranks 4th overall. The report found that it takes only 4 days for a company to obtain a property title to e.g. expand operations.
– On ease of “Paying Taxes,” Saudi Arabia ranks 6th, which makes the local tax regime one of the most competitive in the world. The total tax a company is required to pay on its gross profit is as low as 14.9%.
– Saudi Arabia also cut the number of days required to “Start a Business” to 39 from 64.
“The strong performance reported demonstrates the positive impact created through government ministries working closely together. The Ministry of Commerce deserves special recognition for its work in decreasing the time to start a business. But to continue to improve in such a competitive field will require that we work ever more closely with our sister ministries. It is clear that Saudi Arabia will need to accelerate reforms in order to improve in the rankings in an environment that is quite dynamic,” commented SAGIA’s Governor Amr Al-Dabbagh.
In this regard, going forward, SAGIA will remain true to its objective to achieving a top 10 ranking position by 2010. To get there, it is currently setting up a National Competitiveness Centre, which is expected to further systematically address the issues related not only to regulatory processes, but also to the fundamental competitiveness of the economy.