ET View: What Ease of Doing Business survey means

Way to Go! India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business report 2019 has hugely improved, up 23 places to 77 among economies, which is quite unprecedented in the comity of nations, indeed path-breaking and most welcome. It would improve investors’ sentiments and should better coagulate funds on the ground. There has been much improvement is such parameters as ‘Trading across borders,’ ‘Dealing with construction permits’ and ‘Getting electricity,’ and which have been backed by structural reforms like the goods and services tax regime and the Insolvency Code.

In the last couple of years or so India’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business survey has shot up from 130 in 2016, to 100 last year. And the latest ranking can be substantially improved as well, with proactive policies going forward.

Note that there remain substantial areas where progress has been rather lacklustre. When it comes to such parameters like ‘Registering property’, India’s ranking is a lowly 166 (among 190 national economies), on ‘Enforcing contracts’, we are ranked 163rd, when it comes to ‘Starting a Business’, 137th, and ‘Resolving insolvency’, 108.

It is true that the global rankings focus on the ease of doing business in just the two cities of Mumbai and Delhi. But the two main metros can and do give a good idea of the reforms underway nationally and so can be representative. Moreover, the Doing Business survey also has pan-India rankings. And the latter list shows that such cities as Ludhiana, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar are the top three on the national list, ahead of either New Delhi (ranked 6th) or Mumbai (10th) in the pecking order. It suggests that co-operative federalism, and healthy competition between states for investments and project proposals can well improve the overall ease of doing business nationally.

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