Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a swipe at the opposition Congress for questioning the country’s improved ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report, saying those who had worked with the World Bank previously too were raising questioning India’s ranking. Speaking at a session on India’s business reforms, PM Modi listed the initiatives and reforms that his government had pushed through “in all sectors” that led to an improvement in the ease of doing business ranking from 142 to 100.
“But there are some people who cannot understand this… They don’t want to work, but are quick to question those who do,” PM Modi said at the conference in the presence of World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva.
“This is not just an ease of business ranking… it is also an ease of living life,” PM Modi said at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, responding to the primary criticism from the Congress camp that there was a wide gap between the improvement in rankings and the plight of small businesses.
Leading the opposition attack has been Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi who has accused the government’s decision last year to ban high value currency notes followed by the Goods and Services Tax of having devastated businesses. “Ask small traders about ease of doing business,” Rahul Gandhi has said, describing the two measures as “twin torpedos” that sunk entrepreneurs into losses.
The quantum improvement on this ranking means that life has become easier for the common people, the middle class, he said. “Because most of the parameters selected for this ranking are linked to the day-to-day life of people too,” PM Modi said, counting efforts to simplify filing tax returns, train reservations and gas bookings as some areas.
PM Modi said ease of doing business is “critical for small businesses including small manufacturers” that provides the bulk of employment, makes them more competitive and reduces the cost of doing business.
He also attempted to blunt the criticism over GST, telling traders that the government had been listening to their concerns with an open mind and was making amends. He announced that the group of finance ministers appointed to smooth out the rough edges had met and “almost all points” flagged by businesses were being “positively addressed”.
This ranking takes into account reforms initiated only till May-end and does not reflect the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was implemented from July 1, he said, confident that India would occupy the pride of place in the ranking when GST and other reforms are also accounted for.
World Bank chief Kristalina Georgieva had earlier called India’s jump of 30 places in World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking as “very rare”.
“In reforms what pays off is persistence, what we are seeing is extraordinary achievement by India,” Ms Georgieva said.