India witnessed a 23-notch jump to a record 77th position in the World Bank’s latest report on the ease of doing business that captured the performance of 190 countries. The country showed an improvement in six of the 10 parameters, having witnessed a leap of 129 notches in the ever-laggard ‘construction permit’, 66 in ‘trading across borders’ and 19 in ‘starting a business’. The country’s rank under the current NDA government jumped from 142nd in the World Bank’s 2015 report (which reflected reforms undertaken mostly up to May 2014) to 77 now. In the last two years alone, India has jumped 53 spots — sharpest by any country.
India’s position, however, worsened a bit in the latest ranking on ‘paying taxes’ and ‘resolving insolvency’ — two parameters where improvement was expected following the roll-out of GST and the insolvency and bankruptcy code.
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Finance minister Arun Jaitley said teething troubles after the introduction of the GST in July 2017 may have caused the slight drop in rank. However, thanks to the consolidation in both the GST and the IBC, Jaitley expected ranks to improve much in the next year’s report. While the survey deadline for nine of the ten parameters for the latest ranking was May 2018, in ‘paying taxes’, the deadline was December 2017 (when GST was in the process of stabilising).
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Jaitley also said since many reforms are underway in some other critical parameters where India’s rank has been far from satisfactory historically — such as enforcing contracts, registering property, starting a business — there is a “huge scope” for the country to break into the group of top 50 nations in the coming years, as targeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) would step up efforts to improve ease of doing business even at the district levels.
As for insolvency, the resolution of some of the large cases, including Bhushan Steel, has raised the chances of a much better performance next year.
Commenting on the laggard segment such as the enforcement of contract, where India’s position stands at 163rd, only a notch up from the last year’s rank, Jaitley said commercial courts have been set up and non-judicial intervention in arbitration is being promoted to improve the performance.
The World Bank doesn’t go by notifications on the government’s reform measures, but takes into account the perception of reforms among private sector users, that, too, in just Delhi and Mumbai.
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The ranking in ‘getting electricity’, the best performer in recent years, improved to 24th from 29th last year. However, the biggest disappointment this year was a 12-notch plunge in “registering property”. In ‘getting credit’, the country moved up 7 spots to 22nd position. In “protecting minority investors”, the position, while still among the best in the world, dropped 3 notches to 4th.
Commenting on the sharp improvement in “construction permit”, the World Bank said the cost for completing all procedures to build a warehouse has been slashed to 5.4% of the warehouse value, from 23.2%, while the total time needed for obtaining a permit has been reduced to 95 days from 144 days.