St. Lucia’s ranking for ease of doing business has fallen by 11 places though the country has maintained its top rank in CARICOM for the third consecutive year.
The World Bank’s Doing Business 2014 Report, released this week, has revealed that St. Lucia is ranked 64th worldwide compared to 53rd in the 2013 report. The island was ranked 52nd in the 2012 list.
Puerto Rico, a US territory, at 40th, improved by one place to remain the highest-ranked place overall in the Caribbean for the ease of doing business.
Puerto Rico joins Trinidad & Tobago and Dominican Republic as the only Caribbean islands to improve their ranking in the 2014 list.
Trinidad & Tobago is the second highest-ranked CARICOM country in 66th place overall, up from 63rd.
Antigua & Barbuda is 71st after ranking 63rd last year.
Dominica is 77th, St. Vincent & the Grenadines 82nd, The Bahamas 84th, Jamaica 94th, St. Kitts and Nevis 101st, Belize 106th, Grenada 107th, Guyana 115th, Dominican Republic 117th (was 174th in 2013) and Haiti, 177th.
Worldwide, Singapore topped the rankings for the eighth year in a row, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, United States and Denmark, rounding out the top five, in that order.
The report looks at a series of regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycles, from startup to trading across borders and paying taxes.
According to the report, “The rankings for all economies are benchmarked to June 2013 and reported in the country tables. This year‘s rankings on the ease of doing business are the average of the economy‘s percentile rankings on the 10 topics included in this year‘s aggregate ranking. The number of reforms excludes those making it more difficult to do business.”
The report added: “Through its indicators, Doing Business measures and tracks changes in the economies that have no regulations in the area being measured or do not apply their regulations (considered ‘no practice’ economies), penalizing them for lacking appropriate regulation.
“The economies ranking highest on the ease of doing business therefore are not those with no regulation, but those whose governments have managed to create a regulatory system that facilitates inter-actions in the marketplace and protects important public interests without unnecessarily hindering the development of the private sector—in other words, a regulatory system with strong institutions and low transactions costs. These economies all have both a well-developed private sector and a reasonably efficient regulatory system that has managed to strike a sensible balance between the protections that good rules provide and the need to have a dynamic private sector unhindered by excessively burdensome regulations.”
St. Lucia takes the Doing Business report very seriously.
In March 2012, the government and the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture appointed a task force, headed by Justice Michael Gordon, to review the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report.
The task force was also mandated to examine the procedures used to set up and transact business. A report has been presented to the government for review. Responding to the 2013 report in which St. Lucia was ranked 53rd, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Kenny Anthony called for a cautious appreciation of the findings.
“There are still too many hurdles that individuals and businesses have to contend with when transacting business in St. Lucia. This certainly calls for a review of our systems and procedures. We must continue our efforts to create an environment that encourages investment and reduces the cost of doing business,” he noted.
“While we may be ranked first in the Caribbean our neighbours are improving in the rankings, demonstrating that they too have the ability to be as attractive and competitive as we are. They are catching up with us because our pace of reform has slowed. Other countries are also moving ahead,” Dr. Anthony said in the 2012 press statement.