More labour market, bankruptcy reforms urged to drive MidEast growth

World Economic Forum’s MENA Business Council outlines plan to create jobs and stability in region
More labour market, bankruptcy reforms urged to drive MidEast growth
Majid Jafar, CEO of UAE-based Crescent Petroleum and chair of the World Economic Forum’s Actionable Policy Reforms Initiative for the Middle East and North Africa.
By Staff writer
Thu 19 Jan 2017 01:57 PM

The World Economic Forum’s Middle East and North African (MENA) Regional Business Council has launched a report outlining policy reforms to create jobs and stability in the region.

The report outlines actionable policy recommendations for six priority reform areas including the labour market, bankruptcy laws and the process of setting up a new company.

The recommendations also call for more public-private sector cooperation, business conflict resolution and corporate governance.

In a statement, the Council urged regional governments to enhance the efficiency of the labour market, saying regulation must allow workers to quickly move, at low cost, from one job to another.

"There is an imperative to align labour market regulation to international standards, especially redundancy," the report said.

It added that the region needed to modernise bankruptcy systems based on efficient legal frameworks and effective judicial actors: impartial judges, competent lawyers and accountants experienced in insolvency proceedings.

The UAE has recently approved legislation on bankruptcy but details of how it will work in practice are still to be fleshed out.

The report also called for action to stimulate entrepreneurship by exploiting IT to create an efficient single interface, a one-stop-shop, for registering a company.

It added that administrative units to liaise between the private and public sector for projects of national interest should be created.

The Council also urged regional governments to establish anti-corruption laws to promote competitive businesses, attract foreign investment and boost investor confidence, especially in the context of small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The current momentum for reform in the MENA region creates an opportunity for business, civil society and government to initiate inclusive sustainable development. This report is the first collective policy reform recommendation that is concrete and scalable,” said Mirek Dusek, head of Middle East and North Africa, member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

“Each of these policy reforms marks a milestone along the road to success and prosperity. The current drive and the determination of MENA’s premier group of companies offer promise that it will boost growth and achieve prosperity for all.”

“We cannot continue to have one in three young people in our region unemployed. We need to transform our economies to enable job creators and not just job seekers,” added Majid Jafar, CEO of UAE-based Crescent Petroleum and chair of the World Economic Forum’s Actionable Policy Reforms Initiative for the Middle East and North Africa (APRI).

Jafar said the reforms need to change and enhance basic business regulations to enable more private-sector investment and entrepreneurship while MENA’s legal and transparency frameworks must also be reformed.

“Without fundamental economic reform in these key basic areas, we stifle prospects for progress in the region and hold back businesses’ potential to create jobs,” he added.

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