‘India has to improve fast to chase the moving frontier’

Amiti Sen | Updated on January 09, 2018

Govt’s efforts of the last 3 years are paying off, says World Bank’s Annette Dixon

India’s improved performance in the World Bank’s latest ‘Ease of Doing Business — 2018’ report is a result of the steps taken by the government over the last few years, says Annette Dixon, Vice-President, South Asia region, World Bank.

In an interview with BusinessLine, Dixon talks about the necessity for the country to keep improving fast to “chase the moving frontier’’ and stay competitive. Excerpts:

What are the reasons behind the big jump in India’s ranking this year after slow progress in the last couple of years?

What we see this year is the pay-off of the efforts made in the past three years. ‘Doing business’ measures changes not only to the law but their implementation. So it reflects the efforts we have seen to simplifying the processes, including online applications, reducing the number of steps people have to take, reducing the costs, etc. This takes a lot of business process re-engineering. And the thing that we have really observed in India is that efforts to get feedback from users and using that feedback to continually improve processes. All this has worked.

But, there are still areas such as starting a business and registering property where India is lagging. Can the Bank help India improve?

Our team remains available. We have been partnering with the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion in their efforts. I think India should make persistent efforts to improve all of these indicators. It is essential not only because there is room to make improvements, but also other countries are improving fast and India needs to chase this moving frontier in order to become competitive globally. We would expect that with continued efforts and strong leadership and coordination, it will continue to make progress.

Could the initial problems faced by entrepreneurs due to GST have a negative effect on India’s ranking next year?

I think that a reform that is as bold and transformational as GST will take two-three years to show results. The transition course will be difficult. But, we expect it to have significant benefits for India. It will create a unified market, will integrate Indian economy and will make doing business in India easier for firms. And we expect that it will show up as a strong benefit in future years in the study. If that does not happen next year, it will happen the following year.

Will India’s new bankruptcy and insolvency code bring more benefits in the future ?

We have just seen the beginning of the implementation of the new code. This is important because it is allowing firms to continue to do business while going through insolvency workout. And it will allow investment to continue and trading to continue even when there is a work going on. This will become quite beneficial.

Is there a chance of the World Bank expanding is survey beyond Mumbai and Delhi?

The government is doing its own State-level ranking and we are supporting that because we think it is very beneficial. We usually do one city in each country, but given India’s size and diversity, we have extended it to two cities.

I think unleashing this spirit of competitiveness among States will be in the longer run beneficial for India. It will be beneficial not just in its national ranking but also helping India to do business at the State level.

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Published on October 31, 2017
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