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Saint Lucia Tops Caribbean in World Business Ranking

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Thursday, September 7, 2006 - A World Bank report ranks St Lucia and Puerto Rico among the top 30 places in the world in which to do business.

According to a BBC report on Thursday, the only Caribbean country or territory within the top 20 is Puerto Rico ranked at number 19.

St Lucia is ranked 27th out of 175 countries.

The study looks at how effective they were at stripping away the bureaucratic obstacles to opening businesses, getting licences and conducting imports and exports.

The private sector arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, published the report after doing a survey of how easy it is to do business in 175 countries.

The IFC measured the time, cost, and hassle for businesses to comply with the countries' legal and administrative requirements---- in other words how easy it is to cut through the red tape.

So they found that the easiest country in the world in which to do business is Singapore, followed by New Zealand and the United States.

Reforms

In terms of introducing reforms that make it easier for businesses, Africa is reforming faster that Latin American and the Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East.

The reforms the IFC approves of are simplifying business regulations, strengthening property rights, easing tax burdens, increasing access to credit, and reducing the cost of exporting and importing.

World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz, says that in many countries the costs of doing business are so prohibitive that businessmen are forced to operate outside the formal economy -- that is, the country is more open to bribes and corruption.

He says the report is a critical tool for developing countries to determine where more reforms are needed.

"Statement of Confidence"

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony has welcomed the report. "This is great news. I am exceedingly pleased," he said on receiving the news Thursday.

Dr Anthony said the report "is also great news for us as a Government because sometimes we can be hard on ourselves and feel that even all that's done is not enough."

The PM, who is also responsible for Finance, Economic Development, International Financial services and Information, said the World Bank/IFC report "will help us in our quest to continue to attract business and to do business in ways that would be even more business friendly."

He said the reports was "also an international statement of confidence in Saint Lucia, which will certainly help the world better understand that Saint Lucia is not just good for tourism, but also good for business."

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