Singapore: Rising economic giants China and India are caught in a web of strangling red tape where even getting a tourist visa is difficult, a survey of foreign business executives showed Tuesday.
The "Regulatory Overkill" report by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) contrasts the stifling regulatory environment in the two nations with streamlined systems in financial hubs Hong Kong and Singapore.
In a grading system with zero as the best possible score and 10 the worst, India struggled badly with a mark of 9.16, with China the second worst on 9.04.
"India is one of the most over-regulated countries in the world," the PERC report said, noting that even getting a tourist visa was cumbersome.
"In general, regulations are complex and non-transparent," the Hong Kong-based consultancy said, adding that procedures were onerous.
China's regulatory regime also came in for flak.
"Many of the reasons are the same (as in India), foremost among them being that interpreting regulations is a major source of power of bureaucrats," PERC said.
Hong Kong was perceived as having the simplest and most transparent regulatory environment in Asia, followed by rival global financial hub Singapore.
"Hong Kong and Singapore are really the only two economies that place a high priority on simplicity and transparency in regulations," PERC said.
"They write rules with more input from experts and businesses, and they make sure that government departments can be coordinated better by working online and that consumers can use this same technology to keep informed."
It said Hong Kong (0.98) and Singapore (1.08) "genuinely want to eliminate unnecessary paperwork, whereas many of the other countries view such paperwork as vital to justifying a role for the bureaucracy."
Japan, Taiwan and South Korea were rated as next best. Indonesia (8.83) and the Philippines (8.26) both scored badly with problems including corruption and lack of implementation of regulations, the report said.
The United States, which was graded for comparison, had a score of 1.51.
PERC surveyed 1,370 expatriate executives in 11 Asian economies about how they perceived the regulatory environment in the countries or cities where they were working and the extent to which it affected their business.