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Red tape still a problem in Egypt, says World Bank

Egypt ranks 109th worldwide in doing business — and momentum for reform is slowing down, claims a new report

Ahram Online, Thursday 25 Oct 2012
Nile City Towers
Cairo's Nile City Towers, home to several multinational companies (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's international ranking improved only one place in ease of doing business this year, climbing to 109th place out of 185 countries, according to a new World Bank report.

The Doing Business Report is issued by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.

The pace of reform in Egypt has slowed in the last four years, though between 2005 and 2009 the country was the fastest improving in the Middle East, according to the report.

In the Arab world, Egypt comes 10th out of 20 countries. Gulf countries occupy the top rank, with Saudi Arabia heading the list, ranking 22nd worldwide. It is followed by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, ranking 26th and 40th worldwide, respectively.

Though Egypt logged slight overall progress, the country's rank actually dimmed for eight of the 10 sub-indicators mentioned in the report.

The biggest backward slide concerned construction permits, with Egypt losing seven ranks to end at 165th. Egypt's ranking also fell in starting a business, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors and trading across borders.

A slowdown of reform was also discerned across Arab Spring countries.

“The post-Arab Spring governments have had a broad range of economic, social and political issues to address, and this in turn has resulted in a slower overall reform process, as new governments have struggled to adjust to important shifts in the political and economic landscape,” said the report.

A crisis of governance and lack of transparency has also caused problems, it claims.

According to survey results, business managers in the region rank corruption, anticompetitive practices and uncertainty on regulatory policy high on their list of concerns. At the same time, 60 per cent of public officials interviewed across the region perceive the private sector as corrupt.

The 10th edition of the Doing Business Report recommends that governments in the region to invest in governance structures and increase transparency in parallel with efforts to improve the business environment.

"The case study on transparency in this year’s report points to one area where they could start: the Middle East and North Africa is one of the regions with the most constrained access to basic regulatory information, such as fee schedules,” the report says.

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