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Centre pulls up socks for World Bank business index

With the World Bank gearing up to release its new business environment report to replace the Ease of Doing Business Index, the central government has initiated early preparations to ensure that its efforts in easing business prospects are reflected in the report.

The World Bank defines Business Ready (B-READY) as its new flagship report benchmarking the business environment and investment climate in most economies worldwide.

The report assesses the regulatory framework and public services directed at firms, along with the efficiency with which these elements are combined in practice. The first B-READY report is scheduled for launch on September 25.

According to government sources, India’s business environment report will be published in 2026, with the survey set to commence later this year.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Ministry of Commerce is the nodal agency for this process in India.

“We will be among the batch of countries covered in the B-Ready survey in the second half of the year. Senior officials meet with nodal ministries twice a month to first assess our position in terms of a B-Ready questionnaire with 1,300-odd questions. The exercise is underway. It’s an ongoing process, and we are working hard on it,” DPIIT Secretary R K Singh told this paper in an interaction earlier this month.

Various ministries have been allocated questions based on the methodology of the new index, and officials have been tasked with deliberating on the implementation of all laws directly or indirectly impacting the proliferation of new businesses. This includes labour regulations, taxation processes, and regulatory frameworks.

Capital-intensive ministries are expected to provide data on easing business activities through the creation of infrastructure and allied services, thereby alleviating supply chain chokepoints.

The Centre also plans to incorporate some B-Ready-related indices into the Business Reforms Action Plan for states, Singh had said.

According to one of its public statements, the World Bank notes that India will be covered in the set of economies slated for the third stage of the project.

In 2021, World Bank Group announced its decision to discontinue the next ‘Doing Business’ ranking report, following a probe of data irregularities. Allegations surfaced regarding pressure by some top bank officials to improve China’s ranking in 2017.

India had said at the time that this decision would not impact its ongoing reforms aimed at improving the business climate.

India had leapt to the 63rd rank in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings released in October 2019, jumping 14 notches from the previous year.

According to minutes of a conference held in October 2023, published by the World Bank watchdog Bretton Woods Project, economist Norman Loayza stated that whereas the Doing Business report focused on the ease of conducting business from the perspective of a firm or entrepreneur, in B-Ready, the bank examines the private sector as a whole, considering the benefits to broader actors such as workers and the environment.

Loayza, director of the Global Indicators Group at the World Bank, supervises flagship data and reports including B-Ready.

“While the Doing Business Report was heavily focused on eliminating regulatory burden, we are now also providing guidance on regulatory quality and the public services required to comply with regulatory burdens, offering a more positive view of what governments can offer,” Loayza was quoted as saying in the minutes.

The Bank has also shifted its focus to the implementation of laws rather than merely accounting for them on paper and has expanded the number of firms covered for case studies. Business Standard

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