The Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) is pushing government to continue introducing policies, guidelines and legislation to enhance Ghana’s business-friendly environment, despite the World Bank halting publication of the Doing Business report after irregularities regarding changes to the data used in the report were detected.
Nana Osei Bonsu, Chief Executive Officer of PEF – who has played key roles in the introduction of reforms to make the business environment friendly – says even though the country in the past four years has consciously restructured its business regulatory environment to attract investors, the decision by the World Bank Group should not slow the progress it is making.
“The Ease of Doing Business Index is to help you to improve business enablers in your country; whether it is done or not, that is the fundamental motive. It allows you to showcase your business environment and opportunities.
“It is good for us, published or not published; you have to focus on correcting your systems and when these corrections happen, they surely reflect on the ground. Notwithstanding the fact that it is not going to be published, we still have to continue to do what is good to create better enabling conditions to do business,” Nana Osei Bonsu told the B&FT.
A World Bank statement said: “A number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019.
The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.
“The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank has been briefed on the situation, as have the authorities of countries that were most affected by the data irregularities. The publication of the Doing Business report will be paused as we conduct our assessment.”
Despite the suspension, Mr. Bonsu stressed that what matters is what the investors experience and recommend – not really what the ranking will say, even though it is important.
“The ranking is not the only thing that investors look at. They get attracted by that and further come into the country, go through their embassy and ask about the real issues on the ground. So, the ranking allows investors to get some data on how well a country is when it comes to taxes and others; but they don’t only look at the ranking. Any serious investor goes down to the country.
“Word of mouth is very important in the investing world. Ghana is working on taxes; if word goes out that Ghana has a good tax regime, that is good. Liquidity, long-term capital, taxes, law enforcement are things that we need to continuously improve to attract investors. With non-publication of the Ease of Doing Business Index 2020, I don’t foresee it hurting us – but I don’t also want the government to relax, but rather continue doing the right things,” he said.
In the last report, 2019, Ghana improved its ranking to 114 out of 190 economies – up six places from 120 in the 2018 Doing Business Report. Ghana’s ease of doing business score, formerly called distance to frontier, has increased by 2.06 to 59.22.
The progress reflects reforms in three key areas. First, government has made it easier to deal with construction permits by strengthening construction quality control through imposing stricter qualification requirements for professionals in charge of technical inspections.
Second, government has made it easier to pay taxes by allowing financial losses to be fully carried forward during any of the following five years of assessment; and third, government has made it easier to trade across borders by implementing a paperless Customs clearance processing system.
Four African economies – Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Rwanda – are among the top-10 most improved economies globally.