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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Egypt drops to 128 on the WBG Doing Business report

Really, WBG? It’s like that? Egypt dropped six places in the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Doing Business report 2018 (pdf) to 128 out of 190, down from 122 in the 2017 report, and sandwiched between Cape Verde and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This comes despite the WBG issuing a glowing press release (pdf) on the improvements and reforms Egypt has made and, in a fit of nationalist pique, makes the WBG something less than our favourite institution this morning.

(Pictured above: Our staff’s collective reaction.)

Tub-tubs, but… “Egypt has carried out 29 reforms over the last 15 years, in comparison to Jordan (with 19 reforms), Tunisia (19) and Algeria (16),” the statement said. The WBG has recognized the Sisi administration’s effort in the past year to improve SME funding, protect minority interests, in addition to improving access to credit. Egypt’s highest score is in Dealing with Construction Permits, where it is ranked 66th globally. We also did well on Starting a Business, with the time and cost of starting a business having been more than halved to 14.5 days and 7.4% of income per capita, respectively.

“Egypt has made ambitious economic reforms over the past few years, which have helped boost investor confidence and attract foreign capital. This year, IFC, has tripled its investments in the country,” said the International Finance Corporation Country Manager for Egypt, Libya and Yemen Walid Labadi. “There are signs that Egypt’s economic reforms are starting to bear fruit. For example, we are seeing an increase in capital flow into Egypt, especially in the energy and manufacturing sectors,” said Merza Hassan, Dean of the Executive Board and Executive Director World Bank Group.

So what did we wrong? The report shows that registering property was made more difficult. Egypt also underperformed in the areas of Paying Taxes, ranking at 167, and Trading Across Borders, where it ranks 170th globally. “It takes 265 hours to obtain the right paperwork to import, for example, four times longer than the global average of 66 hours,” the report said.

How did we fare in comparison to others? New Zealand remained the top-ranked country on the report, while Somalia retained the bottom spot. The US was ranked sixth. The UAE was highest ranked MENA country at 21. Saudi Arabia was ranked at 92.

The report doesn’t factor in reforms enacted after May 2017, which is when the WBG concluded its assessment, Investment Minister Sahar Nasr reminded everyone. Among those are the new Investment Act and its executive regulations, as well as reforms to the Companies Act, she said in a statement.

Looking towards next year, the government will work on procedural amendments to cut down the number of hours it takes to pay taxes to improve Egypt’s ranking in that area, Vice Minister of Finance Amr El Monayer said.

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