By Ashwini Agarwal
In advance information before the Ease of Doing Business Index is published in October, the World Bank has indicated that India is among the top 20 most improved nations list. The bank has indicated that India has improved the most in four areas that count in the final rankings - starting a business, resolving insolvency, trading across borders and construction permits.
India was ranked 77 in the 2018 list. But it stood at 137 in starting a business, at 52 in construction permits, at 80 in trading across borders and at 108 in resolving insolvency. It is clear that the policies of the government regarding the GST, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and the changes to the Companies Act have contributed to the improvement.
But if one goes through the ranking parameters, it is obvious that India still needs to do a lot to improve three major hindrances to business - registering property (166), paying taxes (121) and enforcing contracts (163).
Let us first take up the problem of enforcing contracts. The legal system in India is plagued with delays and it takes ages to get a verdict. Although there was the talk of commercial courts speeding up the process, not much has been heard of them since. This is one area where India has to improve a lot if it wishes to attract FDI. Commercial courts must be set up fast and the arbitration process must be strengthened to resolve commercial disputes.
Registering property is related to land reforms and easy conversion of land is not always available to those wishing to set up industries. Although land is a state matter, reforms are overdue and it seems that there is no political will in tackling this sensitive matter.
When the final list comes out, Indian might move up by 5 to 10 ranks. There will be a celebration in New Delhi. But the fact remains that for an economy aspiring to be the best in the world, a rank of 65 or 70 is shameful. We must be right up there in the top 10. The government must work to cut the red tape and make doing business easy.