India jumps 14 places to 63rd in 'ease of doing biz'

India jumps 14 places to 63rd in

Figures among top 10 most improved countries in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings

Washington/New Delhi: India climbed 14 rungs in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking to stand at the 63rd position and figured among the world's top 10 most improved countries for the third consecutive time on the back of faster bankruptcy resolution and issuance of construction permits.

The rise, which comes on the back of a 23-spot jump last year, underscored the reformist credentials of the Modi government that is hard pitching India as an alternative investment destination to China.

"India put in place four new business reforms during the past year and earned a place in among the world's top ten improvers for the third consecutive year," the World Bank said in its 'Doing Business 2020' report released on Thursday.

The improvement in rankings is a shot in the arm for the government that is battling to engineer a quick turnaround in the economy buffeted by weak consumer demand and muted investment activity.

GDP growth had slumped to a six-year low of 5 per cent in the April-June quarter.

In five years of the Modi government, India's ranking has improved 79 places - from 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2019, which is a record for a major economy.

It has improved its rank by 67 positions in the last three years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last year set a target to break into top-50 countries by 2020. The ranking is topped by New Zealand.

India's ranking was behind Asian peers Singapore (2nd ranked), Hong Kong (3rd), Korea (5th), Malaysia (12th) and China (31st). The US was placed 6th on the list. India figured among the top 10 performers on the list for the third time in a row.

India is the only large country this year to have achieved such a significant shift. The economies that showed the most notable improvement were Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China, India and Nigeria, according to the World Bank.

World Bank said India still lagged in areas such as enforcing contracts where it was ranked 163rd and registering property where it was 154th.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said some categories such as resolving insolvency, construction permits and trading across borders, have shown a lot of improvement.

She, however, said the ranking based on a survey of two cities (Delhi and Mumbai) in such a vast and diverse nation may not be adequately representative and so in the coming year Kolkata and Bengaluru will be added to the list of surveyed cities.

"In starting business, India has improved just one rank (from 137 to 136) and starting business is very critical in a cycle of an industry.

I will make sure that the (finance) ministry and other government departments will make enough effort to improve on that scale as much as we have done on insolvency," she told reporters in New Delhi.

India saw the biggest jump in 'resolving insolvency' category, to 52nd rank from 108th, on the back of implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, while its ranking improved substantially in 'construction permits' (to 27th from 52nd) and 'trading across corders' (to 68th from 80th).

On registering property and paying taxes, India was ranked a lowly 154th and 115th respectively, though these were improvements over the previous year's ranks of 166 and 121.

The Finance Minister said there can be an improvement in registering property and getting electricity connections which are done at the state level.

Compared with last year, India's ranking deteriorated on two parameters - protecting minority investors (from 7th to 13th position) and getting electricity (from 22nd to 25th) - and remained unchanged in 'enforcing contracts' at 163rd.

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