India will leapfrog 30 places to the 100th position out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, high-level sources have confirmed to The Hindu.
According to a source involved in the exercise — the report is expected to be released on October 31 — “India will hit a century.” This huge jump in the country’s ranking is thanks to reforms in areas such as ‘starting a business’, ‘dealing with construction permits’, and ‘resolving insolvency’, where it was placed a lowly 155, 185 and 136 respectively last year. The source said, “The low rank last year galvanised India to act. There was an explicit order from the PM (Narendra Modi) to ensure faster reforms to improve India’s rankings.”
India was ranked a poor 130 overall last year, up by just one place from 131 the previous year.
On the future prospects for India, the source said, “If India maintains this momentum, it can jump to a rank in double digits next year,” adding that Mumbai and Delhi — the two cities covered in the Report — had responded well to the government’s call for improvement. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion systematically worked with the line ministries and State governments to “get things done on the ground”, the source said.
The DIPP also had the Prime Minister’s support to coordinate across Ministries, the source said. “That was critical. For a federal democracy with messy coordination, as opposed to China or Russia, this coordination was quite a feat. Comparison with these two will be interesting.” Official sources told The Hindu that “We are optimistic (about a huge jump in rankings).”
The development will be a shot in the arm for the NDA government that has been facing a barrage of criticism due to its sudden demonetisation exercise and the ‘hurried’ implementation of the Goods and Services Tax regime that made it difficult for firms, particularly the small and medium ones, to do business. After taking charge as the Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi was keen to ensure that India finds a place in the top 50 ranks, and had soon after made this a priority.
Speculation has been rife about a significant improvement in India’s rankings following top government officials including Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu recently hinting at some “good news” on the ease of doing business front, and the DIPP secretary Ramesh Abhishek expressing optimism about a noteworthy performance this time due to the “hard work” done by the government.
The Hindu had reported in June quoting a government official that “This time, the (government’s) strategy was to carry out major reforms in areas such as ‘starting a business’ and ‘dealing with construction permits’ where we were down in the list.” The official, who didn’t wish to be named, had said, “We expect India’s ranking to vastly improve, mainly due to reforms in these areas and to a certain extent in other parameters including ‘resolving insolvency’.”
The World Bank’s ‘distance to frontier’ score — which “measures the distance of each economy to the ‘frontier’ that represents the best performance observed on each of the indicators across all economies in the Doing Business sample since 2005 – showed that India’s score