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UK businesses remain "largely positive" about improvements in ease of doing business in India, but there are concerns about the pace and execution of reforms, says a report. According to the UK India Business Council's 3rd annual Ease of Doing Business in India survey, a majority of respondents (51%) said the business environment has improved though the percentage has come down from 53% who held similar views in 2016. When asked "Is the ease of doing business in India improving?", 42% respondents replied in the negative, up from 31% in 2016. The survey was conducted between September 25 and October 24 this year and covered responses from 88 companies, compared to 65 in 2016. The findings come close on the heels of a 30-place jump by India in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business (EODB) rankings, to 100 from 130.
Moreover, global rating agency Moody's has raised India's sovereign rating to Baa2 with a stable outlook. The respondents acknowledged the Indian government's commitment but felt that it was taking too long for ministerial direction to translate into improvements in day-to-day interactions with the bureaucracy. "Given that the UK is the largest G20 investor in India, UK businesses are clearly enthusiastic about the opportunities in India and would consider investing more, and more quickly if the government both in States and at the Centre - delivered further reforms," the survey said. The main barriers to doing business in India are legal and regulatory impediments, as cited by 63% of respondents, while corruption was cited by 34% and taxation issues (39%). The survey referred to three areas in which reforms are needed to improve the confidence of UK businesses and unlock even higher investment into India. "Firstly, greater visibility of upcoming legislation, especially surrounding tax reforms like GST, would allow for greater predictability and allow businesses to plan accordingly," the report said. The survey further said more "consistent bureaucratic processes" applied systematically across India would enable UK businesses to embark on ventures in India with confidence. Finally, more flexibility with government procurement initiatives and contracts, and a more efficient application of single-window clearance systems would go a long way in increasing confidence in India as an investment destination in future, it added.
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