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Armenia Narrows the Gap with the Global Regulatory Frontiers

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Economies in Europe and Central Asia accelerated an already strong momentum to improve their business climates, enacting 56 reforms and leading globally in reforms on paying taxes and enforcing contracts, the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 study says.

Europe and Central Asia is home to two of the world’s top 20 best places to do business – Georgia (7th) and North Macedonia (17th).

“The economies of Europe and Central Asia continue to make significant progress in enabling entrepreneurship and promoting economic growth,” said Santiago Croci Downes, Program Manager of the Doing Business Unit. “As the reform momentum builds, economies that lag behind can learn from the good practices adopted by their neighbors.”

“On the ease of doing business score which assesses a country’s absolute level of regulatory performance – Armenia’s score went up from 73.2 in Doing Business 2019 to 74.5 in Doing Business 2020,” says Sylvie Bossoutrot, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia. “This means that over the course of last year Armenia has improved its business regulations as captured by the Doing Business indicators in absolute terms. The country is indeed continuing to narrow the gap with the global regulatory frontier which is a positive and promising development.” 

In 2018/19, Armenia implemented four reforms improving the business regulatory framework. More specifically, Doing Business finds that Armenia implemented substantive improvements in the local regulatory framework in the following areas:

  • Armenia strengthened construction quality control by imposing stricter qualification requirements for architects and engineers;  
  • Armenia strengthened minority investor protections by requiring an independent review and immediate disclosure to the public of related party transactions, increasing shareholders’ rights and role in major corporate decisions and clarifying ownership and control structures;
  • Armenia made paying taxes easier by extending value added tax cash refunds to cases of capital investment;
  • Armenia made exporting faster by allowing the online submission of customs declarations.

The Doing Business team visited Yerevan this year and deepened its knowledge across topics in Armenia by expanding the pool of contributors over the past year to 139 (by 8%) located in Yerevan.

The region implemented the most reforms world-wide in the areas of paying taxes (nine), as 22 economies in the region now allow electronic filing of taxes, and enforcing contracts (six), as Europe and Central Asian is the region with the most efficient commercial judicial system. Europe and Central Asian economies also stand out on the ease of registering property: it costs 2.7% of property value on average to transfer a property, less than the 4.2% average among OECD high-income economies.

Europe and Central Asia has also performed well over long run, as numerous countries have lowered paid-in minimum capital requirements and improved credit reporting systems over the 17 years of Doing Business study.

The region underperformed in the areas of dealing with construction permits and getting electricity. Obtaining required construction permits takes 170 days on average in the region, compared to 152 days in OECD high-income economies. Similarly, connecting a new warehouse to the grid in Europe and Central Asia takes on average almost 100 days, 25 more days than among OECD high-income economies.

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Human Rights

UN: Stop evictions in East Jerusalem neighbourhood immediately

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A little boy stands on the remains of his family's demolished home in the West Bank. (file photo) UNRWA/Lara Jonasdottir

The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR), on Friday, called on Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions, including those in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, as well as to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force while ensuring safety and security there.

Eight Palestinian refugee families residing in Sheikh Jarrah are facing forced eviction due to a legal challenge by the Nahalat Shimon settler organization, with the risk “imminent” for four of the families, according to the office.

OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said that the evictions, if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel’s obligations under international law.

“Given the disturbing scenes in Sheikh Jarrah over the past few days, we wish to emphasize that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which International Humanitarian Law applies. The occupying Power must respect and cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory, and must respect, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”

He went on to note that Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, to evict Palestinians from their homes.

On Thursday, Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also urged Israel to stop demolitions and evictions in the neighbourhood, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.

Prohibited under international law

“In addition, the Absentee Property Law and the Legal and Administrative Matters Law are applied in an inherently discriminatory manner, based solely on the nationality or origin of the owner”, OHCHR spokesperson Colville said.

“In practice, the implementation of these laws facilitates the transfer by Israel of its population into occupied East Jerusalem. The transfer of parts of an occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory that it occupies is prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime”, he added.

Violation of right to adequate housing

The OHCHR spokesperson also said that forced evictions could violate the rights to adequate housing and to privacy and other human rights of those who are evicted.

“Forced evictions are a key factor in creating a coercive environment that may lead to forcible transfer, which is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a grave breach of the Convention.”

Mr. Colville also called on Israel to respect freedom of expression and assembly, including of those who are protesting against the evictions, and to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force while ensuring safety and security in East Jerusalem.

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Health & Wellness

WHO approves Chinese COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

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A COVID-19 vaccine produced in China has been given the green light for global rollout, potentially paving the way for its use in underserved countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday. 

The UN agency has approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use, which is a prerequisite for inclusion in the global vaccine solidarity initiative, COVAX.  

The vaccine is easy to store, making it suitable for locations with limited resources, and proved 79 per cent effective in clinical trials. 

“The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk”, said Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products.  

“We urge the manufacturer to participate in the COVAX Facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution.” 

A vaccine first 

The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG).   

It is the first vaccine to carry a vaccine vial monitor. The vials have a small sticker that changes colour as the vaccine is exposed to heat, so health workers know whether it can be safely used. 

The vaccine is recommended for adults 18 and older, with a two-dose schedule spaced over a period of three to four weeks. 

Although few people over 60 participated in the clinical trials, WHO did not recommend an upper age limit for use as data suggests the vaccine is likely to have a protective effect in older persons.   

Safely expediting vaccines 

WHO emergency use listing (EUL) allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines. 

The EUL process assesses the suitability of new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics during public health emergencies.  

The goal is to make them available as rapidly as possible, while maintaining strict criteria of safety, efficacy and quality. 

The Sinopharm vaccine is the sixth to receive the EUL approval.  The others are by Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) and Moderna.

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Finance

Reasons for Choosing Temporary and Permanent Industrial Buildings

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Professional temporary solution providers have become very innovative in designing industrial buildings. While temporary industrial structures are made of lighter materials such as aluminum and fabric or PVC covers, permanent solutions are made of steel or metal frames and sheets. All of them require good preparation of the ground, pre-fabrication of the frames and sheets, and proper installation to serve their purpose well.

Most beneficiaries of these structures are processing factories, manufacturing plants, sports clubs, schools, and many other organizations and companies. Choosing temporary and permanent industrial buildings from a reputable supplier has many perks.

So, let us dive into the reasons for choosing temporary and permanent industrial buildings to understand this topic better.

Amazing Speed of Constructions

Bye-bye brick and mortar industrial buildings that are time-consuming. Temporary and permanent industrial buildings are the way to go because they are fast and easy to fabricate and install using modern technology.

According to experts, these structures save a lot of time, especially if the frames and panels are already fabricated in the factory. Companies that need to set up new companies or expand the current ones will have everything ready in a matter of a few weeks.

Excellent Cost Saving

The economy is hard enough and the investor needs to save on capital when setting up companies or doing expansions. The good news is that temporary and permanent industrial buildings save costs by up to 30% when done by a professional company.

Smart-Space is not only innovative in their technology but they save you a lot of money when setting up your industrial structures. You can rent these structures if you only need them for a short time to save more money.

Absolute Flexibility and Versatility

If you are looking for structures that can be moved after a few years, then temporary and permanent industrial buildings are the way to go. As mentioned, they are made of frames and panels that are fastened together using bolts. Hence, they are easy to dismantle and move to a different location.

However, this work should be done by professionals to reduce damage and ensure the safety of the structures at all times.

High Level of Customization

If you are looking for functional sizes and unique designs that will maintain the theme of your company or organization, the temporary and permanent industrial buildings done by experts will be best. After a discussion of what will serve your business well, the solution provider will take a few days to do the designs with your preferred sizes and colors.

Customization also applies during the extension of an existing factory where everything is done to your preference or in the best possible way. To achieve a high level of customization, you should consider experienced solution providers.

Surprising Durability

Both temporary and permanent industrial buildings are surprisingly durable. Take steel industrial structures for example. They provide service for many years without the need for complicated maintenance. Since steel does not rust, the structure will withstand harsh weather conditions including moisture.

Structures made of metal frames and fabric are equally durable, especially when used as recommended. They also require low maintenance with no paintwork needed after every few years.

Manufacturer’s Warranty

The buyers of temporary and permanent industrial buildings enjoy different manufacturer’s warranty benefits. This could be the bought structures or the materials used to make them. What’s more is that many reputable service providers also give warranties on the workmanship, which will save cost when there is a problem.

Conclusion

To enjoy all of these benefits, it is good to buy or lease your temporary and permanent industrial buildings from a reliable and trusted supplier. Well, there are even more benefits that you will realize once you start using these structures. So, make the right choice now.

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