New Delhi: India’s rank in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2019 survey climbed 23 places to 77 among 190 countries surveyed, making it the only country to rank among the top 10 improvers for the second consecutive year. The sharp rise in the ranking will burnish the reformist credentials of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and help the prime minister build a positive narrative ahead of elections in five states next month and Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Last year, India saw a record jump of 30 places to reach the 100th position in the rankings. In more than four years of the NDA, India’s ranking improved 65 places from 142nd in 2014 to 77th in 2018, a record for a major economy. (The complete list of countries in World Bank Doing Business 2019 rankings can be accessed here)
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah sought to quickly extract political dividend. “It is worth noting that under an “economist" PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh, India’s #EaseOfDoingBusiness rankings plummeted from 132 to 142 between 2011 and 2014! Corruption, cronyism and policy paralysis of the UPA adversely impacted the nation," he tweeted.
“The reforms in India included streamlining the process of obtaining a building permit and improved building quality controls," the World Bank said. “Starting a business was made easier through consolidation of multiple application forms and introduction of a goods and services tax (GST), while getting electricity was made faster and cheaper. Other reforms in India included strengthening access to credit as well as making it easier and faster to pay taxes and trade across borders."
Industry secretary Ramesh Abhishek said that earlier, breaking into the top 50 in the World Bank rankings looked difficult.
“At 77, we are within striking distance of top 50. Momentum of reforms will continue. ‘Team India’ will work harder, together, build more & more trust with users & deliver on the promise," he tweeted.
The Doing Business 2019 report bases the rankings on field surveys and interviews with corporate lawyers and company executives in Delhi and Mumbai. India is seeking to reach the 30th position by 2020, according to an output-outcome framework document prepared by the government.
India saw a massive jump in the parameter “dealing with construction permits" to 52th position from 181st a year ago by reducing time for processing permit applications, streamlining procedures, and improving transparency among other measures.
“By implementing the single-window clearance system in Delhi and the online building permit approval system in Mumbai during the second half of 2017, India also continued to streamline and centralize its construction permitting process," the report said.
India saw a similar improvement in the “trading across borders" section to 80th position from 146th a year ago. This improvement was made possible by reducing the time and cost to export and import through various initiatives, including the implementation of electronic sealing of containers, upgrading of port infrastructure and allowing electronic submission of supporting documents with digital signatures under its National Trade Facilitation Action Plan 2017-2020.