The ultimate aim of Ease of Doing Business reforms is to achieve Ease of Living for citizens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a meeting with India Inc in the national capital on Monday. He also said the next target was to take the country into the top 50 for doing business.
“Our aim is not only to improve Ease of Doing Business but also improve Ease of Living for every citizen,” said Modi.
In the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business ranks, India jumped 23 spots to 77. Last year, it had jumped 30 spots.
The meeting on Monday at the Prime Minister’s Office was aimed at brainstorming measures required to realise his vision of India breaking into the top 50 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, sources said.
However, industry captains chose to focus on existing reforms, praising the government for implementing them.
Confederation of Indian Industry President Rakesh Bharti Mittal said it was a congratulatory affair since the country managed to improve its ranking by a significant margin over the past three years. Stricter implementing reforms at the district level will accelerate the process, he added.
Another attendee, Assocham President Balkrishan Goenka, pointed out that aggressively digitising land records and making land laws uniform across the country would streamline land acquisition. Enforcement of contracts was another area where India could improve, Goenka added, pointing out that the move to set up commercial courts across India was a hugely positive step in this regard.
“It used to take three-four weeks to get a passport. Now it is available within a week. People had to earlier wait 8-10 months for receiving income-tax refunds. It is now available within a few weeks,” Modi said.
However, exporters have continued to complain of refunds of the goods and services tax being delayed.
“As compared to earlier, the turnaround time at ports has been reduced by 15 per cent, saving both time and money for companies,” the PM said. Industrialists earlier had to file 50-60 forms to abide by labour laws, but these have now been reduced to five, he added.
The World Bank’s “Doing Business 2019: Training for Reform” report showed India's rank in ease of doing business jumped up from 100th place among 190 countries. India had broken into the club of 100 nations easiest to conduct business last year when it managed to jump 30 places.
India has been adjudged the fifth-best performing nation in reforming the business environment. The country improved its rankings in six of the 10 sub-categories used by the World Bank to judge the business climate. It had delivered a similar performance last year.
However, India’s ranking actually took a beating in two categories where landmark government reforms were expected to lead to better results. In “Paying Taxes”, India saw its rank slip two notches to 121, despite the implementation of the GST. The World Bank praised India for merging taxes and significantly revising the tax code, but it didn't lead to a better ranking.
The implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) could not save India from shedding five positions in “Resolving insolvency”, to 108. Estimates by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) suggest that creditors working through the IBC have realised almost 59 per cent of claims.