New Delhi, Sept 26 (UNI) India has been ranked at 120th position, up 12 positions from last year, in the 'Doing Business 2008' report released by the World Bank and its private sector lending arm IFC today, but still ranks low compared to other nations in terms of ease of doing business.
According to the fifth annual report series issued by the World Bank and IFC, countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union reformed the most in 2006/07, along with a large group of emerging markets, including China and India.
South Asia picked up the pace of regulatory reform over the past year to become the second-fastest reforming region in the world, on par with the speed of reform in the countries of the OECD.
Last year South Asia ranked lowest on the rate of reform while this year two-thirds of its countries had at least one reform.
The pickup in reform was led by India, which rose 12 places on the ease of doing business and made the reform of business regulation a policy objective.
However, even countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and China, and smaller countries like Tonga, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Ghana, Antigua and Barbuda have been placed at higher ranks than India in the list.
India was the top reformer worldwide in 'trading across borders'.
Bhutan and Sri Lanka are the other top reformers in South Asia this year. Bhutan introduced the country's first fundamental labour protections.
Sri Lanka made it easier to start a business and to trade across borders.
This year Egypt tops the list of reformers that are making it easier to do business.
Egypt greatly improved its position in the global rankings on the ease of doing business, with reforms in five of the 10 areas studied by the report.
Besides Egypt, the other top 10 reformers are, in order,Croatia, Ghana, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, China and Bulgaria.
The other 11 countries include Armenia, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mauritius, Mozambique, Portugal, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan. India, however, did not fugure in this list.
All these countries had three or more reforms. Reformers made it simpler to start a business, strengthened property rights, enhanced investor protections, increased access to credit, eased tax burdens, and expedited trade while reducing costs.
In all, 200 reforms in 98 economies were introduced between April 2006 and June 2007, found the report.
Singapore, for the second year running, tops the aggregate rankings on the ease of doing business. The top-ranking countries in South Asia are Maldives (60) and Pakistan (76).
India improved its ranking to 120th this year-achieving a bigger gain than China, which rose by nine places to 83rd.
''The report finds that equity returns are highest in countries that are reforming the most,'' said World Bank/IFC Vice President for Financial and Private Sector Development Michael Klein in a statement.
Investors are looking for upside potential, and they find it in economies that are reforming-regardless of their starting point, he added.
Large emerging markets are reforming fast- China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Egypt all improved in the ease of doing business.
The report also finds that thanks to regulatory reform, more businesses are starting up.
Doing Business 2008 ranks 178 economies on the ease of doing business. The top five, in order, are Singapore, New Zealand, the US, Hong Kong (China), and Denmark.
The rankings are based on 10 indicators of business regulation that track the time and cost to meet government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation, and closure.
The rankings do not reflect such areas as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions, or crime rates.