Ease of doing business: Maldives’ ever declining ranking

Unloading goods at the local market in capital Male. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU

Unloading goods at the local market in capital Male. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU

The rank of the Maldives’ Ease of Doing Business has significantly dropped, shows research by World Bank Group.

World Bank released its annual Ease of Doing Business Index for 2017 on Tuesday, which stated that “A high ease of doing business ranking means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local firm”.

The Index’s Economy Rankings show that the Maldives has fallen six ranks from its previous place of 129 last year to 135, and that the nation’s scores have gone down in nine out of the ten topics used to evaluate a country’s ease of doing business.

Doing Business Index’s topics – Maldives rankings

  • Starting a Business:   65 (4 ranks lower than last year)
  • Dealing with Construction Permits:   62 (2 ranks lower)
  • Getting Electricity:   145 (1 rank lower)
  • Registering Property:   172 (1 rank lower)
  • Getting Credit:   133 (1 rank lower)
  • Protecting Minority Investors:   123 (5 ranks lower)
  • Paying Taxes:   134 (5 ranks lower)
  • Trading across Borders:   147 (no change)
  • Enforcing Contracts:   105 (2 ranks lower)
  • Resolving Insolvency:   135 (1 rank lower)

World Bank commenced its Ease of Doing Business Index in the early 2000’s. The Maldives made it onto the list for the first time in 2008 with a rank of 54. Its rank had continually dropped until 2012 where it showed improvements in both 2013 and 2014. The archipelago’s ranking has been declining since then.

The Maldives on Doing Business Index

2008:   54
2009:   65
2010:   69
2011:   71
2012:   87
2013:   85
2014:   79
2015:   95
2016:   129
2017:   135

While World Bank’s research indicates that the ease of doing business in the Maldives is on the decline, incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom assumed office with a manifesto mainly promoting an economic agenda. The top factors of his agenda are to bring in foreign investments and establish a feasible environment for trade and business in the Maldives.

However, several foreign financial institutions including the World Bank have criticised the current government’s economic policies. The World Bank estimated that the ever inclining government debt in the Maldives will increase yearly to 120 percent of the GDP per head by 2020. It has also warned the Maldives of major negative repercussions to its banking system due to increasing amount of domestic loans taken by the nation’s financial institutions.

With the exception of the Maldives and Nepal, which had dropped by seven ranks from last year, most of the other countries’ Doing Business rankings have either improved or gone down very slightly. South Asian superpower and one of the largest economies in the world, India, improved by one rank, while other regional countries Pakistan and Bangladesh went up by four ranks and two ranks respectively. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan had dropped by only one rank while Bhutan’s economy went down two ranks.

Topping the rankings again this year are Singapore and New Zealand. However, constant topper Singapore has fallen to second place this year with competitive New Zealand taking the top rank.

Ease of Doing Business is the most important research carried out by the World Bank, playing vital roles in the progress of private businesses as well as shaping the economic policies of developing countries.

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