The Malta Independent 20 July 2019, Saturday

Malta remains most difficult place in the EU to do business

Thursday, 8 November 2018, 11:04 Last update: about 9 months ago

Last week we reported the conclusions of the World Bank's annual Ease of Doing Business Survey which had just been released. The actual details were even worse than we reported.

Malta, according to the World Bank, will be the most difficult place in the whole of the European Union in which to do business.

Malta, in fact, was ranked in the authoritative study as being the 84th easiest place in the world to do business, out of the 190 countries surveyed.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, Malta fared best in the area of 'Dealing with construction permits', where the country was ranked in a global 45th position.  In all, 14 procedures are involved and an average of 170 days.

"Malta made dealing with construction permits easier by streamlining the process of obtaining a building permit," the World Bank noted. "On the other hand, Malta increased the time to issue a building permit."

In terms of 'Starting a business', Malta ranked 103rd with eight procedures necessary and 16 days to open business' doors.

Malta ranked 77th in terms of 'Getting electricity', requiring an average of 105 days to get connected.

But it was in the area of 'Registering property' that Malta fared worst, in a global 151stspot, requiring 15 days and seven different procedures.

In the EU, just ahead of Malta was Greece, in 72nd place, and Luxembourg, in 66th.

Malta's best ranking is enforcing contracts where Malta comes in at 39th place while, as said, its second best ranking is in dealing with construction permits, where Malta is placed in the 45th place, an improvement of 0.89%.

But then Malta ranks at 134th place at getting credit, even if this is a 5% improvement on last year's ranking.

And Malta ranks at 151st place for registering property and 103rd place for starting a business. Malta is then classified at 121st place for resolving insolvency.

In most of the sub-sections, Malta registers an improvement, even if at times a slight improvement. But in one sector, getting electricity, Malta registers a deterioration of 3.10%.

It is clear that only a concerted effort, on a national scale, across the party divide, and with clear targets and measurements can enable Malta to rise through the annual survey's ratings. And it's not a question of doing so for the sake of the ratings, although businesses considering opening up or moving to Malta will monitor such ratings, but more importantly to become more pro-business when this is no electioneering slogan but a measurable target.

Take but just one of the sub-sections, for instance, getting electricity. Can anyone explain why is it necessary to spend 105 days to get connected to the grid when in other countries it is all so easy and direct?

And the World Bank's ratings do not tell the whole story. When we consider, for instance, the ongoing and still unresolved Satabank saga with all the drama and hardship that it is causing to individuals and businesses whose only fault is that they did not find any other bank ready to open up an account for them, we start to understand that we are placing obstacles along the way to those who want to open up a business in Malta. 
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