Despite the remarkable progress in the World Bank’s global ranking of Ease of Business, there are certain weak areas that continue to make the actual investment environment in India difficult, Alok Ranjan, former chief secretary Uttar Pradesh, wrote in The Indian Express. The focus on ease of doing business and the subsequent improvement is the result of the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The credit also goes to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the senior civil service, which have piloted these reforms. However, Ease of Doing Business misses initiatives from middle and lower-rung officers in the country and that is what needs to be changed to get real results, he added.
“To determine the perception of the shareholders we, in the UP government, got a study conducted by IIM Lucknow, Jaipuria Institute of Management and Lucknow Management Association. The study revealed that despite an enabling policy environment there were certain weak areas. Industry felt that on parameters like getting a No Objection Certificate from the pollution control board, registration of plots, tax issues and transparency in dealings, the actual environment continues to be difficult,” Ranjan said, adding that along with the ease of entry and exit, the regulatory environment faced by an entrepreneur once he sets up his business is equally important.
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While talking about ket hurdles, Ranjan said that investors continue to face issues despite having online approvals and having a common application form, as they are unnecessary forced to visit the concerned government offices. Besides, the entrepreneurs may get electricity load sanctioned online, but a junior engineer may turn into a nightmare by making them run from pillar to post to actually have the power connection, he added. The same goes for factory or labour inspectors.
“The perception of the existing industry is vital to ensure the sustainability of reforms. For example, we had made the registration of industries online, automatic and immediate. To my consternation, I found that the reform was opposed by all general managers of district industries centres since they felt their power and authority had been encroached upon. These are the kind of officers whose mindset needs to be changed if reforms are to become reality. These officers do not belong to the higher civil service. They are generalists as well as specialists at the middle or lower level of government departments,” he added.
However, the mindset of these officers can be changed by rigorous training, linking these officers’ performance with their contribution to reforms as well as setting rules that cut down inference in business activity by predatory officers, Ranjan noted.
It may be noted that after India taking a leap of 65 spots in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rankings in last four years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious deadline of December this year to implement reforms that can get the country into the top 50 on the list as early as next year.