Eastern Europe and Central Asia dominated this year’s list of top 10 reformers with 4 newcomers: Azerbaijan, Albania, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Belarus. Sub-Saharan Africa, which had a record year for regulatory reform, accounted for almost as many top 10 reformers: Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Botswana. Two of last year’s top reformers - Colombia and Egypt - retained their top reformer status. Finally, the Dominican Republic added an island nation to the top 10 list, new from last year.
Azerbaijan led the world as the top reformer in 2007/08, with improvements on seven out of 10 indicators of regulatory reform. Azerbaijan started operating a one-stop shop in January 2008 that halved the time, cost, and number of procedures to start a business. Business registrations increased by 40% in the first 6 months. Azerbaijan also eliminated the minimum loan cutoff of $1,100, more than doubling the number of borrowers covered at the credit registry. Also, taxpayers can now file and pay their taxes online. Azerbaijan’s extensive reforms moved it far up the ranks, from 97 to 33 in the overall ease of doing business.
With a record 58 reforms completed in 28 economies, Sub-Saharan Africa placed 3 economies among the top 10 reformers. Senegal moved up a full 19 slots, from 168 to 149. Regulatory reforms were introduced in 3 areas, and Senegal achieved the status of top reformer globally in easing trade. Burkina Faso also made substantial gains, moving to 148 in the rankings. A new labor code was approved, a one-stop shop for construction permits was introduced, and transferring property became easier. Finally, Botswana moved up 14 slots to thirty-eighth in the rankings. Among other reforms, business start-up was speeded up through computerization, and trading was improved through the use of an electronic data interchange system.
Of the 10 indicators of business regulation, easing business start-up was again the most popular reform. Nine of the 10 top reformers made it easier to start a business. For example, Senegal started a one-stop shop that merged seven start-up procedures into 1. The time required to start a business fell from 58 days to 8. Albania merged company, social security, labor, and tax regulations. And Egypt continued with reforms from last year, further reducing registration costs and paid-in minimum capital.