SPA (Riyadh)

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made unprecedented progress in the indicators of ease of doing business, for 2018, following the implementation of many reforms and measures that would contribute to improving business environment, investment and boosting investor confidence, according to a world report.

The Kingdom is among the top 20 reformist countries, in the world, and the second among the best high-income in G-20 countries, in terms of implementing reforms to improve the business climate, a World Bank Group report classified the Kingdom, as such.

Saudi Arabia's progress in indicators of ease of doing business for 2018 excelled in 6 of 10 axes: protecting minority investors, enforcing contracts, starting a business, cross-border trade, registering property and settling bankruptcy, the report added.

The Kingdom's strong reforms have led to progress in protecting the minority shareholders, ranking 10th in the world, in this regard, which is a strong signal to investors interested in investing in the Kingdom, boosting investor confidence in the Saudi market and contributing to attracting direct foreign investment, according to the report.

The reforms also included facilitating payment of taxes by improving electronic filing system to raise tax returns and pay taxes, reducing the number of hours required to pay taxes from 67 to 47 hours, the report highlighted.

The Kingdom has also increased cross-border trade facilitation by reducing the number of documents required for customs clearance, reducing the processing time required by nine days for exports (from 90 days to 81 days) and imports (from 131 days to 122 days), the report stated.

One of the reforms undertaken by the Kingdom is to improve efficiency of the land management system is to simplify registration procedures and it has an effective land registration system, with the transfer process taking only one and a half day, at no cost, the report said, adding that by contrast, it takes more than 22 days and costs an average of 4.2% of the value of the property in OECD high-income countries, the report reaffirmed.

This is the first time that the Kingdom achieved reforms in 6 axes in one year compared to only 4 reforms, in 2009 and 2011, respectively, in accordance with report.

Saudi Arabia proceeds on minority shareholding investors scale from 63 to 10, which the global minority protection index, following reforms that contributed to increasing shareholders' equity and their role in important decision making, clarifying ownership and control structures, demanding greater corporate transparency and regulating the process of disclosure of transactions with interested parties and other controls and requirements, in full transparency, it confirmed.

The kingdom's ranking rose from 105 to 83 on worldwide enforcement of contracts indicator, due to time and cost required to settle commercial disputes, in courts, as well as the quality of judicial proceedings and effectiveness of the court system, it underscored.

With regard index of starting business, the Kingdom achieved a progress from 147 to 135 due to a reduction in the number of procedures to start a business and establishment of "Maras" platform to register a commercial facility, which was recently launched to provide the governmental relevant services to starting and practicing a business in one place and reducing the time required to establish a business.

About registering property, the Kingdom made an advanced rank from 32 to 24 based on reducing a number of procedures and days for registering real estate property.

Regarding a settlement of bankruptcy cases, the Kingdom advanced a rank from 169 to 168 where the committee works with the Kingdom's relevant agencies in order to accelerate issuance of the new bankruptcy regulation in order to achieve advanced ranks in the report for the Kingdom.

All those results were achieved through a committee for improving performance of business in the private sector "Taysir" which coordinates and follows implementing those reforms in participation of all governmental relevant agencies.

The Committee works in accordance with an integrated vision with the relevant government agencies to facilitate procedures ensuring efficiency and facilitate the business practice to achieve advanced ranks in the indexes of ease of doing business and improving the Kingdom's ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report.

It's worth mentioning that the committee was formed upon a decision issued by the Economic and Development Affairs Council and headed by Dr. Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment. The committee aims to set up a plan improving performance of the business in the private sector and motivating it to participate in the economic development in accordance with the Kingdom Vision 2030.

The committee seeks to improve laws and regulations that stimulate the business environment in the Kingdom.

It also aims to stimulate the foreign investment and support market competitiveness and smooth cross-border trade in addition to take care of innovative value-added research, spread the entrepreneurship culture and involve the private sector in evaluating government efforts as well as to improve the image of the private sector in the Kingdom at home and abroad.