News

World Bank Doing Business survey: showing the full story on Belgium?

December 2015


Russell Bedford International accounting network, including Wouters, Van Merode & Co. B.V.B.A., Belgium, have again contributed data to the report’s Paying Taxes survey.

The latest report, Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency, shows Belgium ranked in 43rd place in terms of the world’s best regulatory environments for ease of doing business: a drop of two places on last year. In terms of the country’s tax environment, Belgium is ranked 90th, down four places on last year.

Commentators, however, feel that this data may expose some of the limitations of the Doing Business survey. Dirk Wouters, founding partner of Wouters, Van Merode & Co. commented: “The World Bank Doing Business survey provides an excellent ‘snapshot’ of individual countries’ progress in improving the business-friendliness of their regulatory regimes. But, at the practical level, such a top-level strategy can disguise more than it reveals. Belgium has specific initiatives in place to support businesses in recruitment, training, logistics, and research and development. The introduction of a new investment incentive programme in 2006, allowing the deduction of notional interest on local investments that would otherwise be due on loan repayments, has had a significant impact on the calculation of the corporation tax base. This is not reflected in the Doing Business data: but, in real terms, is precisely the direct and practical intervention that businesses need."