Financial Times

Biggest problem for doing business in Sri Lanka is tax regulations

By Dilshani Samaraweera

The latest Global Competitiveness Index for 2009–2010, released this week, has ranked Sri Lanka at 79 out of 133 countries. The index findings also indicate that the ‘most problematic factor for doing business’ in post-war Sri Lanka is the country’s tax regulations.

The Global Competitiveness Index is complied by the World Economic Forum (WEF) which defines competitiveness as “the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country.”

The competitiveness of countries is measured on the basis of 12 pillars of competitiveness. These pillars are a country’s institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

For this year’s country ranking over 13,000 business leaders were polled in 133 countries, in addition to using public data, said a press release from the WEF. This year Switzerland topped the ranking as the most competitive country in the world, followed by the US at 2nd place and Singapore at 3rd place.
Despite the end of armed warfare, this year Sri Lanka’s ranking dropped by two spots, at 79 out of 133 countries, compared to 77 out of 134 countries last year.

Meanwhile, business executives identified tax regulations as the most problematic factor for doing business in Sri Lanka. The others among the five most problematic factors are (in the given order), access to financing, tax rates, inflation and inefficint government bureaucracy.

Out of the ‘12 pillars of competitiveness’ Sri Lanka’s ‘Health and Primary Education’ showed up as the strongest competitiveness pillar of the country, earning a score of 5.7 out of 1 to 7. However, the competitiveness pillar of ‘Macroeconomic Stability’ is still seen as weak getting the lowest score of 2.8. The balance 10 competitiveness pillars scored between 3 to 4.5.

In the region, India worked its way up the ranking by one this year, to come within the 50 most competitive countries, ranking at 49 out of 133 countries. Pakistan’s ranking remained the same as last year at 101. Bangladesh pushed its way up by 5 ranks to come 106th while Nepal also climbed one rung higher to rank at 125th.

China continued to lead the way among large developing economies ranking at 29.

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