World Bank Doing Business survey: showing the full story on Belgium

Top Quote The latest World Bank Doing Business survey shows Belgium down in rankings for ease of doing business and the overall tax environment. But is this the full picture, and does the report's 'top-level' approach hide some positive initiatives for entrepreneurs? End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) December 09, 2015 - Published annually, the World Bank Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations for local firms in 189 economies worldwide. Member firms of the Russell Bedford International accounting network, including Wouters, Van Merode & Co. B.V.B.A., Belgium, have again contributed data to the report's Paying Taxes survey.

    The latest report, Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency, shows Belgium ranked in 43rd place in terms of the world's best regulatory environments for ease of doing business: a drop of two places on last year. In terms of the country's tax environment, Belgium is ranked 90th, down four places on last year.

    Commentators, however, feel that this data may expose some of the limitations of the Doing Business survey. Dirk Wouters, founding partner of Wouters, Van Merode & Co. commented: "The World Bank Doing Business survey provides an excellent 'snapshot' of individual countries' progress in improving the business-friendliness of their regulatory regimes. But, at the practical level, such a top-level strategy can disguise more than it reveals. Belgium has specific initiatives in place to support businesses in recruitment, training, logistics, and research and development. The introduction of a new investment incentive programme in 2006, allowing the deduction of notional interest on local investments that would otherwise be due on loan repayments, has had a significant impact on the calculation of the corporation tax base. This is not reflected in the Doing Business data: but, in real terms, is precisely the direct and practical intervention that businesses need."

    About Wouters, Van Merode & Co.
    Wouters, Van Merode & Co. is a medium-sized, independent audit firm based in Antwerp. The firm's services include the auditing and consolidation of accounts for both domestic and international clients, typically acting as a member of a company's Supervisory Board, as well as transaction support, legal and financial due diligence, dispute resolution, corporate restructuring and liquidation. The firm's clients - both domestic and international - operate across a diverse range of industries, including the wholesale and retail, manufacturing, consulting, automotive, services, real estate, shipping, transport, and diamond trading sectors.

    Dirk Wouters
    Wouters, Van Merode & Co. B.V.B.A.
    T: +32 3 355 50 90
    E: dirk ( @ ) wouters-vanmerode dot be

    About Russell Bedford International
    Established in 1983, Russell Bedford International is a global network of independent firms of accountants, auditors, tax advisers and business consultants. Ranked amongst the world's leading accounting and audit networks, Russell Bedford is represented by some 600 partners, 5000 staff and 290 offices in more than 100 countries in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. Russell Bedford International is a member of the IFAC Forum of Firms and a member of EGIAN, the European Group of International Accounting Networks and Associations.

    Kempton Bedell-Harper,
    Russell Bedford International
    T: +44 20 7410 0339
    E: kempton.bedell-harper ( @ ) russellbedford dot com

    About the World Bank Doing Business project
    The Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 189 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level.

    The Doing Business project, launched in 2002, looks at domestic small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle.

    By gathering and analysing comprehensive quantitative data to compare business regulation environments across economies and over time, Doing Business encourages economies to compete towards more efficient regulation; offers measurable benchmarks for reform; and serves as a resource for academics, journalists, private sector researchers and others interested in the business climate of each economy.

    In addition, Doing Business offers detailed subnational reports, which exhaustively cover business regulation and reform in different cities and regions within a nation. These reports provide data on the ease of doing business, rank each location, and recommend reforms to improve performance in each of the indicator areas. Selected cities can compare their business regulations with other cities in the economy or region and with the 189 economies that Doing Business has ranked.

    The first Doing Business report, published in 2003, covered 5 indicator sets and 133 economies. The new report covers 11 indicator sets and 189 economies. Most indicator sets refer to a case scenario in the largest business city of each economy, except for 11 economies that have a population of more than 100 million as of 2013 (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Russian Federation and the United States) where Doing Business, also collected data for the second largest business city. The data for these 11 economies are a population-weighted average for the two largest business cities. The project has benefited from feedback from governments, academics, practitioners and reviewers. The initial goal remains: to provide an objective basis for understanding and improving the regulatory environment for business around the world.

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