The Centre has firmed up several proposals — from adopting an online system to approve building plan and e-filing of cases for the enforcement of contracts to providing electricity connections in as early as a week — to make it easier for doing business in Kolkata and Bangalore.
The move follows the World Bank’s decision to add these two cities to the list of its existing destinations (Delhi and Mumbai) and widen the coverage of its survey for gauging India’s performance in its ease of doing business index. The ranks are typically based on stakeholders’ perception of reforms in the cities under the survey. So it becomes important to not just undertake reforms in these cities but also sensitize the stakeholders about them. The department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) has been spearheading the ease of doing business initiative.
The plans require massive collaborative efforts between the states (West Bengal and Karnataka) and central authorities, among others, for effective implementation, as most of these are in the states’ domain. This collaboration becomes more critical in laggard areas, such as enforcing contracts, starting a business and registering properties.
In enforcing contracts, in which India held an abysmal 163rd rank among 190 countries in the ease of doing business index last year, the Centre wants the relevant authorities to assess the requirement of commercial courts in Kolkata and Bangalore, based on the amount of pending cases. It also wants the implementation of e-case management, which includes filing, payments, summons and orders, in all commercial courts to fast-track cases.
In registering property, the Centre wants all records relating to titles and encumbrances in these two cities digitised and available on a single portal. It also wants them to register and map all privately-held land plots. In this parameter, India was ranked 154th last year.
As for ‘starting a business’, the government wants the facility for real-time registration for shops and similar establishments. Also, it intends to remove inspection requirement for registration of shops or trade licences. In this indicator, India occupied the 136th spot in last year’s ranking.
To expedite construction permits, the Centre wants the states to adopt an online system for approving building plans and issuing completion-cum-occupancy certificates. Similarly, it wants an integrated online system, with all external and internal agencies involved in providing no-objection certificates, for granting construction permits quickly.
As for providing electricity, the centre plans to further improve or at least maintain the dramatically rise in ranks in recent years. It wants the authorities to ensure that electricity connections (up to 150 KVA) are provided within a week where no right of way (RoW) is required and in 15 days where the RoW is needed.
The country’s rank under the Modi government leaped from 142nd in the Bank’s 2015 report (which reflected reforms undertaken mostly up to May 2014) to a record 63rd in the report released last year. But its lacklustre performance in the laggard segments delayed the achievement of its target of being in top 50 of the 190 nations surveyed.