MALAYSIA is among six East Asian economies ranked in the top quartile of 145 countries on the ease of doing business, according to a World Bank Group report. The others are Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan.
The report co-sponsored by the World Bank and the International Finance Corp, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group investigated the scope and manner of regulations that enhanced business activity, as well as those that constrained it.
Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore had the most flexible employment regulations in the world.
Doing Business in 2005: Removing Obstacles to Growth presented indicators in seven areas: starting a business, hiring and firing workers, enforcing contracts, getting credit, closing a business, registering property and protecting investors.
The indicators are used to analyse economic and social outcomes such as productivity, investment, informality, corruption, unemployment and poverty; and identify what reforms had worked, where and when.
Despite being ranked sixth on the ease of doing business, Malaysia was behind Thailand, and failed to make it as one of the top 20 economies.
The report said East Asian nations still imposed the highest costs on enforcing business contracts of any region in the world, on average 45% of income per capita. They also have among the highest cost of firing workers - on average it takes 79 weeks of wages in severance, penalties and notifications.
It finds that investment climate reforms, while often simple, can help create job opportunities for women and young people, encourage business to move into the formal economy, and promote economic growth.
While in high-income Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries it takes a business six procedures, 8% of income per capita and 27 days on average to get started, in East Asian countries, the same process takes nine procedures, 60% of per capita and 61 days. Overall, rich countries undertook three times as many investment climate reforms as poor countries last year.