Serbia is among the global top 10 improvers in this year's edition of the World Bank Group's ease of doing business report.

Released today, Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All, records three business reforms implemented by Serbia in the past year. As a result, the country's place in the global ranking stakes improved to 47 this year.

"Serbia has been steadily improving the business environment for local entrepreneurs in the past decade," said Thomas Lubeck, IFC Regional Manager for the Western Balkans. "This strong commitment needs to continue both in terms of improving legislation and increasing the operational efficiency of government agencies. This will help provide more equal opportunity for local businesses."

In the past year, Serbia carried out reforms in three Doing Business areas, Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits and Registering Property. The process for starting a business simplified, considerably reducing the time needed to register from 12 days to 7 days. This compares well with the global average of 21 days for starting a business.

In the area of Dealing with Construction Permits, Serbia implemented an online system and streamlined the process of obtaining building permits. As a result, an entrepreneur in Belgrade can now build a warehouse in 156 days, down from 327 days previously. And, the property transfer process was simplified by the introduction of effective time limits for issuing new property titles. Thanks to this, it now takes 21 days to complete a property transfer in Belgrade, less than half the time compared to the global average of 51 days.

While there is progress in terms of the regulatory environment, the report also highlights potential areas of improvement for Serbia. For example, it takes 125 days to get an electricity connection, compared to the global average of 93 days. It also takes 226 hours to comply with local tax obligations, which is more than the regional average of 222 hours.

This year's report includes, for the first time, a gender dimension in three indicators: Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts. The Europe and Central Asia region, which includes Serbia, is the only region where there are no barriers against women in the areas measured by the report.

The Paying Taxes indicator set has been expanded as well to include measures of post-filing processes relating to tax audits and VAT refund. Serbia performs significantly better on these measures, compared to other economies in the region. For example, it takes 4 hours to comply with VAT refunds, which is faster than in Australia or Singapore.

Source: World Bank