How to make it easier to do business–Economic Times–05.11.2017

India’s improvement by 30 places in ease of doing business, as measured by the World Bank’s annual ranking, is a signal achievement and should help shore up investment flows. But it cannot be gainsaid that the survey pertains to just Delhi and Mumbai. The way forward is to proactively improve ease of doing business nationally, and eschew quick-fixes to improve India’s ranking. Focused policy reform will help. Take construction permits, in which India ranks a lowly 181 out of 190 countries. We need streamlined inspection and vetting across central, state and municipal bodies for transparency and time-bound approvals.

Or consider registering property, where our rank is an unenviable 154. Given that clearances from multiple departments such as sub-registrar’s office, land records, banks for mortgages and courts in case of disputes are required, digitisation of records and usage of unique identity would make a big difference. The Torrens system of land registration would be a big step forward. And when it comes to starting a business, India’s rank of 156 is still poor. We must aim to significantly quicken the formalities involved in the whole process and opt for easy online registration. It can well be done.

As for enforcing contracts, where India’s rank is 164, we need dedicated commercial courts complete with online case management systems, in Delhi and Mumbai to begin with, to resolve commercial disputes sooner rather than later. It is notable that when it comes to getting electricity and getting credit, India is ranked a relatively high 29 on both parameters. But the reality is that the figures reflect matters in Delhi and Mumbai, and not across states and regions. The bottom line is that the ease of doing business here needs much improving with thorough reforms.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.
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