Ease of doing biz: PM seeks reports on low ranking in a month

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A day after India’s position was reported at 130 among 190 nations in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings, on Wednesday asked top bureaucrats to study the findings by the multi-lateral agencies and report within a month on the areas where there is scope for improvement in their respective departments and  states.

Chairing an interaction through PRAGATI — the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for pro-active governance and timely implementation, Modi asked all chief secretaries and secretaries to go through the report. He asked them to analyse the potential areas where there is scope for improvement in their respective departments and states.

Modi asked for a report from all concerned in this regard, within a month, and asked the Cabinet Secretary to review the same thereafter.

The had earlier said India should come up to within 50 nations in the Bank report by the time 2018 report comes out. Coming at 130 position among 190 nations in the 2017 report, India’s position on six of 10 parameters went down from the previous year. This means India has to improve its ranking by 80 places to meet the prime minister’s aspirations.

Separately, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government would strive to improve the country’s ranking to position it among the top 50 nations in this regard. She declined to give a time limit for doing so.

“I am not discouraged but a bit disappointed,” Sitharaman said. The government said the ranking hadn’t taken into account the various reform initiatives it had undertaken.

The minister said the central government and states were actively working to improve on the norms related to ease of doing business. “Now, it’ll be important for us to focus on interacting more with states,” she added. The rankings came after senior government officials had repeatedly said India would improve drastically in the 2017 report.

The 10 parameters used by the Bank for ranking countries are: Starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority shareholders, paying taxes, enforcing contracts, trading across borders and resolving of insolvency.

Among these, India’s position deteriorated on six parameters, going up on getting electricity, enforcing of contracts, registering a property and trading across borders.

However, say critics, the ranking covers data from Delhi and Mumbai, with weights of 53 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively. Confederation of Indian Industry president said business conditions in these two cities did not adequately represent the situation in the country. “For years, we had been becoming a more and more difficult country to do business in. This has changed in the past two years,” he said.

Ramesh Abhishek, secretary, department of industrial policy and promotion, had said on Tuesday that the government needed to work on spreading awareness about the reforms which have been undertaken. The Bank based the rankings on feedback from users of government services, who had on repeated occasions said they didn’t know of processes related to business being streamlined, Abhishek had stated.

Forbes denied an information gap between the government and private sector which could have given rise to such a situation. Reforms in many of the norms on which the Bank rated a country’s performance — such as starting a business or securing of construction permits — are dealt with by companies only once in a while and might not be easily evident, he argued.