Government readies plan to push India into top 50 ease of business rankings

Economy


NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday set out the roadmap to get India to break into the top 50 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi brainstorming with ministries.

The government has already worked out a strategy to focus on Kolkata and Bangalore, the two new cities that will be reviewed by the World Bank after it expanded the scope of the annual exercise to cover four Indian cities. Discussions have taken place with top state government officials in West Bengal and Karnataka, who have offered full cooperation. “Every state wants to do well,” said a source at the Centre.

India is currently ranked 63 and the government is putting special emphasis on areas such as enforcement of contracts, registering property, starting a business and paying taxes, while maintaining its focus on improving on other aspects to move up the rankings.

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“It is like a competitive exam, where your rank also depends on how the other countries perform,” said a source.

Sources said that the department for promotion of industry and internal trade made a detailed presentation on the areas that each department has to focus on this year.

While the government has set up special courts to improve the environment on enforcement of contracts, sources said, this aspect may need attention to behavioural change apart from greater sensitisation. Similarly, in case of property registration, gains may not be immediately visible as the World Bank wants a near overhaul of the system with greater digitisation and availability of property records for several years.

On paying taxes, the government’s efforts to merge multiple levies through goods and services tax (GST) have had limited gains although the proposed steps on refunds may come to the government’s aid. Similarly, the recent reduction in corporation tax may have some impact as the contribution of taxes as a proportion of profits is one of the measures that is used.

In case of starting a business, the government is unhappy with the repeated change of “goalposts” by the World Bank and believes that several steps have already been initiated.

There were several reforms initiatives that were discussed, which have been rejected. For instance, there was a proposal to include operational creditors — such as vendors — in the committee of creditors that decides on corporate bankruptcy resolution, which has been trashed as it would require rewriting of the Insolvency Code.



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