Bahrain has been ranked among the top-10 most improved economies in the world in this year’s Doing Business 2020 report, up 19 places to 43rd place since last year in the World Bank’s assessment of 190 countries. The most improved economies are selected based on the number of economic programs and legislative reforms each country has enacted, and on how much their ease of doing business score improved.
As part of its Economic Vision 2030, Bahrain has implemented a comprehensive economic reform programme, making it easier to do business in nine areas measured in the Doing Business ranking, which evaluates a number of vital indicators of various commercial activities. This has contributed to the Kingdom benefitting from increased levels of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which grew from $65 million in 2015 to $1515 million in 2018, according to the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2019. In 2018, Bahrain recorded an annual real GDP growth rate of 2.2 per cent as well as 3 percent growth in non-oil sectors.
Commenting on the news, His Excellency Zayed R. Alzayani, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism said:
“We welcome the recognition of Bahrain as one of the top ten most improved economies in the world in this year’s Doing Business 2020 report by the World Bank. The tireless efforts of Team Bahrain, which is made up of the Executive Authority, Legislative Authority, Judicial branches, private sector, and NGOs, has been acknowledged globally. Although being recognized among the top ten most improved economies internationally is in itself an honour for Bahrain and its people, we stress that our aspirations do not stop here. We will continue developing our economic programs and initiatives and capitalising on the opportunities offered to us by regional growth. We aspire to further develop and strengthen our economy by enhancing our economic diversification efforts, and by improving Bahrain’s business environment in order to provide opportunities for both local and foreign investors.”
In the Doing Business Report 2020, the World Bank identified Bahrain as having made the following reforms:
Bahrain has made enforcing contracts easier by creating a specialised commercial court, establishing time standards for key court events, and allowing electronic service of the summons.
Bahrain strengthened access to credit by giving secured creditors absolute priority during insolvency proceedings. During reorganisation proceedings, creditors are also now subject to an automatic stay that is limited in time with clear grounds for relief.
Protecting minority investors
Bahrain strengthened the protection of minority investors by clarifying ownership and control structures.
Bahrain made resolving insolvency easier by introducing a reorganisation procedure, allowing debtors to initiate the reorganisation procedure, adding provisions on post commencement financing, and improving voting arrangements.
Trading across borders
Bahrain made exporting across borders faster by deploying new scanners powered by artificial intelligence. This system is currently being used at the King Fahad Causeway. The new scanners have the capacity to seamlessly screen 120 export trucks per hour.
Dealing with construction permits
Bahrain has made obtaining construction permits easier by further streamlining the application process through the new building permit portal ‘Benayat’, which delegates the application review processes to licensed engineering firms. This has reduced the time to obtain a construction permit drastically from 174 days to 71 days.
Bahrain made the process of getting electricity easier by investing in digitization and transparency of information and by improving its inspection and installation process. These reforms have reduced the number of days it takes to connect to the national electricity grid from 85 to 69 days.
Bahrain has made property registration easier by streamlining administrative procedures and improving the quality of the land administrative system, reducing the number of days required to register a property from 31 to two days.
Bahrain has made paying taxes easier by implementing electronic payment of social insurance contributions.