India making “serious strides” on business reform

Monday, 8 November 2010 04:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has made “great strides” in implementing pro-business reforms despite its relatively low ranking compared to BRIC country peers, one of the authors of the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” report said.

India ranked at 134 in the list of 183 countries, just below Malawi and further down than Brazil (127th), Russia (123rd) and China (79th). Singapore topped the list and the United States came in at number five.

Political wrangles, bureaucratic and legal hassles and corruption have long been seen as slowing business growth in India, Asia’s third largest economy, and deterring investment in sectors such as road building and power generation where project delays can stretch years.

But the World Bank said India ranked in the 40 most-improved economies to make changes for its entrepreneurs in the past five years, including in starting a business, filing tax returns and registering property, helped by the greater use of technology.

“We do see India is taking serious strides to make it easier for local entrepreneurs to do business,” said Dahlia Khalifa of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), one of the authors of the report, by phone from Washington.

India’s ranking should be seen in a wider context of improvements it has made in recent years and also in the context of what the report does not cover, such as macro-economic stability, Khalifa said.

While doing business remains easiest in advanced economies, the World Bank report showed that two-thirds of the reforms implemented over the past year were in developing countries.

“Reform is not something that happens overnight. Improving your business regulation requires a medium term view to see the impact,” Khalifa told Reuters in reference to India.

Singapore has held the title as the world’s easiest place to do business for the past five years, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, Britain, United States, Denmark and Canada.