JERUSALEM, June 20 (Reuters) - Israel needs to make greater
efforts to reduce the red tape facing companies and investors,
the World Bank said on Tuesday, suggesting it risked falling
further behind other countries in terms of the ease of doing
While Israeli politicians have said they want to improve the
situation, "It hasn't yet reached the centrality it requires. It
hasn't yet manifested in business regulation and the investment
climate becoming the core areas of policymaking," Augusto
Lopez-Claros, director of the World Bank's global indicators
group, told an economic conference in Jerusalem.
"There is a growing recognition in the world about the
importance of the business environment and the importance of
creating a favourable investment climate for the business
community," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of the World
Bank's global indicators group.
Israel dropped three spots to 52nd in the World Bank's Ease
of Doing Business report issued last October.
Among the worst offences was in tax payments, where Israel
is ranked 96th in the world since companies need to make 33
payments a year -- triple the OECD average -- while they also
must file paper copies of tax returns.
Lopez-Claros noted that Israel also does poorly in issuing
construction permits, ranking 126th in the world. "It takes a
long time, it's expensive and it's a complicated process," he
said, noting many countries have moved to regulations whose
strictness level depends of the size of the building. "It makes
imminent sense but it is not present in Israel."
Furthermore, Israel ranked 89th in the world in enforcing
Lopez-Claros said such poor rankings do not fit the image of
Israel as a "technology powerhouse and as a highly sophisticated
economy" that has made huge progress in the last 25 years,
transforming itself from a citrus exporter to a high-tech
Israeli Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu presented a plan
at the conference that aims to improve the business environment.
He said excessive bureaucracy in the implementation of
regulation is the main challenge to be addressed and that the
global experience shows it is possible to boost economic growth
by 0.5 percent.
As part of the plan, Israel will focus on taxation and
bureaucracy that will locate and reduce the bureaucratic burden,
while setting goals for improving business licensing and asset
registration, Hizkiyahu said.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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Keywords: ISRAEL WORLDBANK/BUREAUCRACY