Ease of doing biz: Top govt servants among respondents to World Bank survey

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Officials from the income tax department, customs, the insolvency and bankruptcy regulator, the ministries of shipping and corporate affairs were among the respondents to the World Bank’s ease of doing business survey that saw India’s rank take a quantum leap to 100 from 130.

At least 25 of the respondents were from government departments. Besides, top legal and consulting firms were among the majority of the 350 respondents named in the widely read report. The report might also have received feedback from those who have not been named in the report released on Tuesday. 

Insolvency resolution helped strengthen India’s position in the overall ranking. M S Sahoo, chairman, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, was listed among the respondents, and so was Pankaj Garg, secretary, National Company Law Tribunal. India’s rank in resolving insolvency improved substantially to 103 this year from 136 last year. J K Budhiraja of the Insolvency Professional Agency of Institute of Cost Accountants of India was also a participant in the survey.Amardeep Singh Bhatia, joint secretary with the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) was also one of the responders. 

On a query over whether the participants listed in the report were the respondents that formed the basis of the ranking, the World Bank told Business Standard, “They are a subset of respondents who chose to have their names published in the report.”

A senior government official told Business Standard that after working closely with the World Bank, he realised that respondents were key to the entire exercise. “We realised that respondents are critical in the World Bank’s scheme of things. So we ensured that they (World Bank officials) are well informed about the decisions of the government,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

The jump in ranking from 130 to 100 made India one of the top-10 countries that saw the best improvement.

It is not unusual for government departments to participate in the World Bank exercise. But in 2014, when India was ranked 134, no government official was publicly listed as a participant in the report. In 2015, when India’s rank dipped to 142, four government officials participated, according to the public list. In 2016, when India was ranked 130, government participation was five officials. In 2017, again ranked 130, 23 government officials participated.

Luthra & Luthra, J Sagar Associates, PwC India, Trilegal, APJ-SLG Law Offices were the key respondents in this year’s report. At least two officials from the income tax department participated in the survey. India saw the maximum improvement in paying taxes, with a 50-notch jump to 119 from 172. This was essentially on account of the Income Computation and Disclosure Standards, according to the report. The World Bank also based its ranking on the parameter of ease of paying taxes due to the use of modern enterprise resource planning software.

‘Getting Credit’ saw a 15 point jump in ranking from 154 to 138. Vandita Kaul, joint secretary, department of financial services participated in the Doing Business Report.

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