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MBABANE – Every dark cloud has a silver lining.  Eswatini might have retrogressed four places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2020 report but the overall score improved. From 57.8 per cent overall score in 2019, the country improved to 59.5 per cent in the 2020 issue released yesterday.   

The report reflects that the kingdom was ranked 121 out of 190 countries. However, this was a drop from the ranking of 117 out of 190 countries which had been recorded in the 2019 report published last year.
It should be mentioned that the country’s business environment has been continuously diminishing on a yearly basis when taking into consideration the fact that in 2018, the World Bank ranked the country at 112 which was once again a regression from the 2017 ranking of 111 out of 190 economies.

The Ease of Doing Business Report is one of the yardsticks used by investors in measuring the conduciveness of a country’s business environment. It is regarded as the best measurement by most investors.  Therefore the country’s poor ranking in this regard, puts it at a competitive disadvantage in the southern African region more so because all countries in the region scramble for the same investors.
Out of the core pillars used by the World Bank in determining ease of doing business, the kingdom maintained its top spot in Africa on trading across borders. The country further improved in starting a business - from 159 in 2019 to 155 in 2020, dealing with construction permits – from 107 in 2019 to 96 in 2020, registering property – from 107 in 2019 to 104 in 2020 and getting electricity – from 163 in 2019 to 132 in 2020.
The kingdom also maintained its position in three other reforms; which were paying taxes; enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

On the flipside, the kingdom regressed in protecting minority investors – from 140 in 2019 to 162 in 2020 and getting credit – from 85 in 2019 to 94 in 2020.
Minister of Commerce Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo said this means that although the nation had made progress in terms of improving reforms; other countries were doing a lot more and a bit faster.


“As a ministry, we are encouraged by the improvement but we are cognisant of the fact that we need to do a whole lot more than what we are currently doing. We are committed to pushing more reforms to be implemented this year, especially those that are Legislative as they carry more weight than information transparency and data corrections. We continue to rely on the support of all stakeholders to ensure that our vision of improving the Ease of Doing Business to the top 50 in Africa is achieved,” said Khumalo.

Business Eswatini President Andrew le Roux said despite the improvement in four yardsticks, the overall ranking effectively meant the country was less competitive.
“To be ranked 121 is nothing to be proud of. We urgently need to improve the counrty’s ease of doing business. The ranking is consistent with our experience as a private sector when doing business. Government needs to stop being a competitor but be a referee in the field of business,” said le Roux.        


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