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Doing Business 2020: Ambitious Reforms Earn Bahrain Spot Among World’s Top 10 Business Climate Improvers

Originally published by World Bank

MANAMA, October 24, 2019 – Bahrain carried out a record nine business reforms in the past year with its ambitious reform agenda, making it the world’s best performer in terms of fiscal compliance time, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 report.

Bahrain also earned a spot among the top 10 global business climate improvers and a ranking of 43rd globally with a Doing Business score of 76.

“Bahrain is making great stride to improve the business climate for small and medium-size enterprises,” said Issam Abousleiman, World Bank Regional Director for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). “These reforms will enhance the foundation for private sector-led growth.”

Bahrain is the best global performer regarding fiscal compliance time. The country made the most significant improvements in the area of enforcing contracts. The Supreme Judicial Council expanded the jurisdiction of commercial divisions to all commercial cases. In addition, it established the legal basis for electronic notifications through email or SMS. Complaints filed at the High Court can now be served electronically.

Bahrain also launched a new online platform, Benayat, which further streamlined the construction permitting process by integrating zoning and regulation information for each plot. It is available for free through an interactive map. In addition, the economy now allows licensed engineering firms to review construction permit applications on behalf of government entities, making the review process faster and more efficient. It now takes 71 days to undertake permitting-related procedures compared to 174 days last year.

Authorities significantly simplified property transfers. It now takes only two days to register a warehouse in Manama, compared to 31 days a year ago, and entrepreneurs can complete this process in two interactions. The country ranks 17th globally in the registering property indicator.

In January 2018, the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) launched a new website and the overall time to connect a new warehouse to the grid was reduced by 16 days. It is now faster to obtain an electrical connection in Bahrain than among OECD high-income economies.

With the introduction of a reorganization procedure, Bahrain decreased the likelihood of premature liquidation of sustainable businesses.

In the 12-month period to May 1, Bahrain:

  • Streamlined the process of construction permitting through a new online platform and by delegating the application review process to licensed engineering firms.
  • Invested in digitization and transparency of information and improved electrical grid inspection and installation processes.
  • Streamlined the property registration administrative process and improved the quality of the land administration system.
  • Strengthened access to credit by giving secured creditors absolute priority during insolvency proceedings. During reorganization proceedings, creditors are also now subject to an automatic stay that is limited in time with clear grounds for relief.
  • Implemented a platform for electronic payment of social insurance contributions.
  • Strengthened the protections of minority investors by clarifying ownership and control structures.
  • Facilitated export of goods by deploying new scanners.
  • Created a specialized commercial court, established time standards for key court events and introduced electronic service of summonses.
  • Introduced a reorganization procedure, allowed debtors to initiate reorganization, added provisions on post-commencement financing and improved voting arrangements.

The full study and its datasets are available at www.doingbusiness.org.

© World Bank 2019 – worldbank.org

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