It’s not easy doing business in Malta, says World Bank
Malta is the most difficult EU country for businesses to obtain construction permits, according to a report issued by the World Bank.
Malta ranks 167th worldwide, five places down on last year, and last in the EU on the ease with which businesses can obtain construction permits.
It takes 237 days and 18 procedures to obtain a permit, putting the country six notches below Poland, the next worse performer in the EU.
The construction ranking is part of a wider index compiled by the World Bank in a report called Doing Business 2013, published this week.
The report ranked Malta in 102nd place among 185 world economies analysed.
The overall ranking is based on different criteria including the ease to start a business, get the electricity supply and obtain construction permits.
Among the 27 EU members, Malta ranked last, quite a distance from the next worse performing country, Greece, which ranked 78 in the global index.
It also showed that starting a business in Malta was not an easy affair. The country ranked 150 worldwide, down four places from the previous year.
The World Bank estimated it took 40 days and 11 procedures for a business to set up shop.
Getting electricity was another problematic area for the business community. It took 136 days and five procedures to obtain an electricity service, ranking Malta 111th worldwide.
The electricity ranking worsened by eight places although it took longer to obtain the service in such other EU members as Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania.
The worst performance was in the index that measured the ease with which businesses had access to credit. The index measured the degree to which collateral and bankruptcy laws protected the rights of borrowers and lenders, facilitating lending.
Malta ranked in the 176th place, experiencing no change from last year and on a par with Iraq, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The World Bank report comes barely two weeks after Small Business Minister Jason Azzopardi and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech lauded the Business First initiative when they visited the offices of Malta Enterprise situated at Guardamangia.
The initiative has helped bring different public entities under one roof to make life easier for the business community.
But although three business owners present during the visit attested to the initiative’s success, this does not seem to have featured in the World Bank index.
In a joint statement after the report was made public, the ministers said the Government would take on board the World Bank’s analyses in its efforts to cut down on bureaucracy.
They expressed disappointment that more recent initiatives, like Business First and the simplification or removal of trading licences as of November 1, had been ignored.
Dr Azzopardi and Mr Fenech said it was inexplicable how Malta could be put on a par with countries like war-torn Syria and Iraq in the index that dealt with access to finance. They pointed out that this contrasted with the 17th place obtained for access to finance in an index that had been compiled by the World Economic Forum earlier this year.
“While we cannot expect every report to reach the same conclusion, the difference (between the 17th and 176th place) is a bit particular,” they noted.