Singapore ranks the world’s best place to run a business for eight consecutive years, according to a recent World Bank annual competitiveness survey.

Rounding off the top five are Hong Kong , New Zealand , the US and Denmark .

Another Southeast Asian country to make the top ten is Malaysia , while China is unlikely to be happy with its rating, falling five notches this year to 96th place.

African countries like Chad , the Central African Republic and Libya populated the bottom of the list.

But a rising African country, Rwanda , took the honours as the most improved since 2005. It was praised for its efforts to boost property registration and for simplifying trading and tax procedures.

Countries credited with progressing the most in the last five years include Rwanda (ranked 32), Russia (92), Ukraine (112) and the Philippines (108).

Russia and Rwanda both jumped 20 places from last year, Ukraine and the Philippine gained 25 and 30 places respectively.

The “Doing Business 2014″ report said many countries are making it easier for people to start and run businesses, with low-income economies moving more quickly than larger ones.

In many areas, it added, there has been remarkable progress in removing some of the biggest bureaucratic obstacles to private sector activity.

The rankings focus on what a small or medium-sized business faces in its home country, as opposed to how a multinational giant would fare in the same environment.

The countries are scored on a range of issues, from how many days and procedures does it take to start a business, to the length of time to get a power hook-up, to the ease of credit and the cost of exporting or importing a container.

The data was based on a survey of more than 10,000 professionals, mostly people who routinely help administer or give advice on legal and regulatory issues in a country.-VNA