Bhutan has made it to the 82nd place in the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). This is a 15-place jump from 97th from the previous year.

The Geneva-based WEF publishes ranking of economies based on the efficiency of each country’s institutions, policies, and other factors that determine the level of economic productivity.

In South Asia, Bhutan is second after India (40). Sri Lanka is ranked 85th, Bangladesh 99th, and Pakistan 115th. The Maldives and Afghanistan do not feature in the ranking of 137 countries.

Based on various parameters of competitiveness such as availability of infrastructure and macroeconomic environment, Bhutan scored an average total of 4.1 points out of 7. Last year, Bhutan scored 3.87 points.

The report assesses the competitiveness of economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity. It also measures how easy it is to set up businesses in an economy.

Bhutanese respondents to the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey were asked to select the five most problematic factors for doing business in the country. According to the report, “access to financing” is the most problematic factor in doing business in Bhutan.

Other factors affecting the competitiveness of Bhutanese economy are restrictive labour regulations, inadequate supply of infrastructure, poor work ethic in national labour force, and inefficient government bureaucracy.

The report highlights that South Asia continues its upward trend and competitiveness is improving in most economies in the region.

However, the report adds that upgrading ICT infrastructure and increasing ICT use remain among the biggest challenges for the region. Over the past decade, South Asia has been the area where technological readiness stagnated the most.

The most competitive economy in the region, India, improved its in ICT sector and Internet access in schools. The quality of institutions has increased further, especially in terms of efficiency of public spending, but the private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

MB Subba