In Focus
ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore loses mantle as world's easiest place to do business: World Bank

But who wants to work in new number one, New Zealand?

Singapore has conceded its number-one ranking to New Zealand on ease of doing business despite numerous efforts, World Bank study found.

In the annual 'Doing Business' report, Singapore was pushed out of its decade-long place at the top with an overall score of 85.05.

New Zealand meanwhile gained a higher 87.01 attributable to its steps undertaken to remove the cheque levy, which made paying taxes easier.

"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," Paul Romer, World Bank chief economist and senior vice president, said in a statement.

Rounding up the top 10 in the list are Denmark, Hong Kong, Korea, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Sweden and Macedonia.

The countries were ranked based on 11 sets of indicators such as the ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, accessing electricity and obtaining credit.

For the first time, the Washington-based development lender took gender factors into consideration in assessing how easy it is to start a business, register property and enforce contracts.

During the study period, Singapore enhanced its electronic one-stop shop, making the process of obtaining approvals from different authorities easier.

Singapore was one of the first economies to introduce an electronic system for public administration.

In 1992 the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore developed an integrated and computerized tax administration system, making internal processes more efficient by freeing staff from unproductive bureaucratic tasks. As a result, between 1992 and 2000 the time needed to issue tax assessments decreased from 12–18 months to 3–5 months.

Singapore continues to improve its tax compliance system even though it is among the best performers on the paying taxes indicators. In 2015 the online system underwent further upgrades, allowing for fewer delays in filing returns for corporate income tax and value added tax.

The implementation of a single window in Singapore yielded positive results. Following a recession in the 1980s, Singapore’s government set up a high level committee to improve economic competitiveness. One of the committee’s recommendations was to increase the use of information technology in trade.

Singapore’s single window for trade, TradeNet, one of the first such systems put in place in the world, began operating in 1989 as an electronic data interchange system that allowed the computer-to-computer exchange of structured messages between the government and members of Singapore’s trading community.

TradeNet now handles more than 30,000 declarations a day, processes 99% of permits in just 10 minutes and receives all monetary collections through interbank transactions. Regarding cost, trading firms report savings of between 25% and 30% in document processing.

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