I eagerly thumbed through the document online searching for Caribbean countries, but first I wanted to see how high Barbados was relative to the others. Hello? Is anyone there? Barbados? Where are you? I could not find Barbados anywhere.
I found Barbuda (ranked #51, as always with Antigua). I found The Bahamas (#68). I found Jamaica (#75) and Trinidad (#81). Is the money being spent tempting people to come to invest in Barbados being done on a wing and a prayer? How is the world investing community supposed to know how Barbados stacks up against the rest of the world, or the Caribbean alone? I get it. They just come on a plane and soak up the business making environment. Why waste time on a survey. I hope someone at the World Bank or in one of the government's economic ministries has a good answer--a very good answer. I think back to the past week of PM Thompson glad handing in Florida and I wonder if the "Bajan" way is just more smoke and mirrors.
Puetro Rico (#35) and St. Lucia (#36) do best in the region. But nowhere could I locate God's isle. If you do not believe me, then look at the regional table for Latin America and the Caribbean (see table), which I also reproduce below.
Latin America & Caribbean
[Clicking the headers below will sort data by column (try it and see).]
|Economy||Ease of Doing Business Rank||Starting a Business||Dealing with Construction Permits||Employing Workers||Registering Property||Getting Credit||Protecting Investors||Paying Taxes||Trading Across Borders||Enforcing Contracts||Closing a Business|
|Antigua and Barbuda||5||8||6||10||15||27||5||21||6||5||10|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines||9||6||1||11||25||18||5||7||5||15||28|
|St. Kitts and Nevis||11||13||3||1||28||18||5||14||6||18||28|
|Trinidad and Tobago||14||10||15||8||32||3||3||5||4||30||28|
How utterly strange, I thought. With all of the IMF's recent commentary and concerns about the need to keep investor confidence high the last thing I expected was to find that Bim had gone AWOL in the eyes of potential business people. Is the country serious about moving ahead, not just out of the current recession?
The Economist does its usual nice job on summarising the latest report (see Reforming through the tough times). It shows that a lot of reforms have occurred since the last report. It's interesting that countries tend to emulate the 'leaders' in the region--more reason to see Barbados, showing what it means to be out in front.
- Encouragingly, reform seems to be contagious. Countries try to emulate leaders in their regions. Many African governments, for example, have taken note of the success of Mauritius’s deregulated economy (#17).
- Lower barriers to entry are associated with a smaller informal sector. Informal businesses have lower wages, lower growth rates, poorer safety records, tend not to pay taxes and are prey to corruption. Reducing the cost of doing business leads to higher rates of growth and entrepreneurship.
- One study shows that, in poor countries, a ten-day reduction in the time it takes to start a business can lead to an increase of 0.4 percentage points in GDP growth. Another shows that people who have a formal title to their property invest as much as 47% more in their businesses.
- The best reformers have several things in common. Their reforms are part of a broad agenda of boosting competitiveness.
A query to the World Bank in Washington DC, got the following explanation:
'The Doing Business report includes 183 economies. Since the launch of the first report in 2004, economies are added to the report based on their request. The Doing Business team has recently received a request from Barbados to be included in the report, and we expect that Barbados will be part of next year's report.'