Dubai: The latest ‘Doing Business’ survey by the World Bank has assigned quite unfair rankings to some of the Gulf economies.
Only two, the UAE and Bahrain, got to have improved positions, while Oman and Kuwait were ranked lower. Qatar and Saudi Arabia maintained their rankings.
The UAE leads the region, advancing 10 places to be ranked 11th. The report’s authors noted the efforts making it easier to obtain electricity connections through the elimination of a number of interactions between consumers and utility providers. They also commended the improvements in the online registration space.
Amazingly, the UAE ranks considerably above other GCC states. In 62nd spot, Bahrain is a distant second in the GCC. But it did improve its ranking by one position.
The report notes the moves being made to enhance the rights of minority stakeholders in the decision-making process at companies.
Oman is ranked 78th, immediately after India, having conceded six spots. The sultanate lost more ground on the index than any other Gulf country.
The adverse change is primarily due to it raising taxes and reducing exemptions on foreign companies.
Not surprisingly, the report regards stronger taxes as a hindrance to do business. But for the sultanate, higher taxation is meant to strengthen non-oil revenues as the country addresses challenges related to its public finances.
There is no change in Qatar’s ranking of 83rd spot, with the report noting the move to grant borrowers access to their credit history, thus providing them with an opportunity to correct inconsistencies.
Saudi Arabia maintained its ranking of 92, helped by the steady gains made in improving online services for land registration and the payment of taxes. Another relates to the strengthening of minority shareholder rights in the decision-making process at enterprises.
Kuwait slipped one place lower to 97th, though the report welcomes measures to reduce paid-up capital requirements and promote the rights of minority shareholders.
Gulf economies have the means to strengthen their rankings in the annual survey. At stake is how they intend to leverage available resources, notably human capital, to achieve the desired goals.
GCC economies are known for embracing market economy principles. In fact, there is competition within the Gulf to entice potential investors through a streamlining of business-facing laws.