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Economies in Central Asian Countries Credited with Positive Reforms Says Latest Doing Business Report
Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan implemented a total of 12 reforms across nine business regulatory areas during the past year, with Kazakhstan recording the most reforms in the Europe and Central Asia region for the second consecutive year, says the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business assessment.
Released globally on October 25, 2016, Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All measures regulations affecting domestic firms in 190 countries. In Central Asia, the report was launched today via a live video conference hosted by the Bank Group’s Regional Office in Almaty. Representatives of the governments, business associations, academia, development partners, and media discussed the results of the new report, as well as constructive practices that can be leveraged in each country to improve the business climate for local entrepreneurs and improve their ability to grow and create jobs.
According to the report, Kazakhstan carried out seven regulatory reforms – the most among the Central Asian countries – thereby creating a better environment for entrepreneurs. Uzbekistan, undertook three such reforms, while the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan implemented one each.
“In the current challenging economic environment, goals such as diversification, efficiency in service delivery, and job creation are more critical than ever before – and the role of the private sector is critical in achieving these goals,” said Lilia Burunciuc, the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “The Doing Business 2017 report reflects some significant achievements of Central Asia governments, as well as ongoing challenges to improve the business environment and attract more private sector investment.”
Kazakhstan, with a global ranking of 35th on the ease of doing business, is the second strongest improver globally. The report documents reforms in seven out of ten areas measured by the Doing Business report: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, protecting minority investors, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency. This shows that the Kazakh government reform efforts cover multiple and critical business regulatory areas.
The Kyrgyz Republic, ranked 75th, was credited with one positive reform in the trading across borders area. The country reduced the time and cost needed for exporting by becoming a member of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Tajikistan moved up from last year’s 130th to 128th in the global rankings. Tajikistan made paying taxes easier by introducing electronic invoices and expanding the electronic system for filing and paying taxes to include road tax. It also made paying taxes less costly by reducing profit and road tax rates. On the other hand, Tajikistan made starting a business more difficult by requiring that companies with annual revenue of more than TJS 500,000 register as a VAT payer.
Uzbekistan ranked 87th, implemented three reforms in the areas such as registering property, protecting minority investors, and paying taxes. The country made transferring a property easier by increasing transparency of information, strengthened minority investor protections by clarifying ownership and control structures, and finally made paying taxes less costly by reducing the unified social payment rate paid by employers and the corporate income tax rate.
While economies in Central Asia have reformed actively in recent years across the areas covered by Doing Business, there is still room for improvement in the areas of getting electricity, trading across borders, and paying taxes.
The full report and accompanying datasets are available at www.doingbusiness.org.
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