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Institutional obstacles to doing business : region-by-region results from a worldwide survey of the private sector

Listed author(s):
  • Kisunko,Gregory
  • Weder,Beatrice Silvia

Case studies and anecdotal evidence have suggested that uncertainty about policies, laws, and regulations has hampered development of the private sector in many developing countries. The authors present results from a new cross-country survey that provides comparable data on local investors'problem in dealing with the state. The survey was conducted in 69 countries and covers more than 3,600 entrepreneurs. The questionnaire asked 25 questions about investors'perceptions about such issues as the predictability of laws and policies, the reliability of the judiciary, corruption in bureaucracies, and security of property rights. It also asked about general obstacles to doing business and the quality of state-delivered services. The authors discuss their methodology and present many findings. Among them: a) In less developed countries the majority of entrepreneurs constantly fear policy surprises and unexpected changes in rules that can seriously affect their business. Entrepreneurs in Asia have the most trust in government announcements of policy changes and changes in rules; entrepreneurs in the Commonwealth of Independent States are the most cynical about new announcements; and half of businessmen surveyed in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe do not believe government announcements. b) Entrepreneurs worldwide feel that the cost of doing business is substantially increased by theft and crime and in many developing countries the business community feels that authorities do not adequately guarantee their personal safety and do not reliably enforce their property rights. c) Unreliable judiciaries are perceived as major problems in many developing countries. This applies in particular to the Commonwealth of Independent States and to Latin American countries. d) Entrepreneurs in industrial countries perceived the greatest obstacles to doing business to be tax regulations and high taxes, labor regulations, safety or environmental regulations, financing, regulations for starting new business and operations, and general uncertainty about the costs of regulation. e) Entrepreneurs in South Asia and Southeast Asia ranked the top obstacles to doing business as high taxes and tax regulations, inadequate infrastructure, inflation, labor regulations, and regulations for starting new businesses and operations. f) In the Middle East and North Africa, entrepreneurs considered lack of infrastructure the chief obstacle to doing business, followed by corruption, high taxes and tax regulations, and financing. g) In Central and Eastern Europe, high taxes and tax regulations were the only regulation-related obstacle ranked high, followed by financing, corruption, and inflation. h) The worst obstacles in Latin America were considered to be corruption and inadequate infrastructure, followed by crime and theft, problems with finance, and high taxes and tax regulation. i) In Sub-Saharan Africa the biggest problems were corruption, tax regulations and high taxes, inadequate infrastructure, inflation, crime and theft, and financing.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1759.

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Date of creation: 30 Apr 1997
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1759
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  1. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474.
  2. Brunetti, Aymo & Kisunko, Gregory & Weder, Beatrice, 1998. "Credibility of Rules and Economic Growth: Evidence from a Worldwide Survey of the Private Sector," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(3), pages 353-384, September.
  3. Borner, Silvio & Brunetti, Aymo & Weder, Beatrice, 1995. "Policy Reform and Institutional Uncertainty: The Case of Nicaragua," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 43-64.
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