NEW DELHI: Taking a bludgeon to the Opposition for criticising India’s 30-rank improvement in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that if the UPA had implemented the reforms the NDA has, India’s position would have improved much earlier.
Once GST and other reforms with longer gestation periods were accounted for, India would occupy pride of place in next year’s rankings, Modi added.
“Some people don’t understand the improvement... Even today they question the ranking. I want to ask, if insolvency code and other reforms were done in your time, would this ranking not have come in your regime?” he asked at a gathering of top business leaders.
“From 2004, when World Bank rankings were started, to 2014, whose government was in place? I am a Prime Minister who has never seen the World Bank building. But earlier, there were those who knew the World Bank well…” he mocked.
In his early career, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was associated with an IMF-World Bank institution. The Congress had criticised the government’s euphoria over the 30-rank jump, saying that it did not change reality brought about by “hasty” implementation of GST and demonetisation.
Modi said the NDA had effected real change, with a slew of reforms seeing India’s position jump 42 places in three years. “The past mindset of excessive control has been replaced with minimum government and maximum governance. We have abolished 1,200 archaic laws... This ranking may be called ease of doing business, but I believe it also means ease of living life,” he declared.
Reforms already rolled out but with longer gestation periods would also boost India’s position, he said. The ranking for 2017 takes into account reforms initiated only till May, 2017, and does not reflect the impact of the GST, which was implemented from July 1. Modi used the flurry of structural reforms implemented by the government to hardsell India as an investment destination. His “One life, One Mission”, he declared, was bringing change to India and its 1.25 billion people.
Going forward, Modi said GST, the “biggest tax reform”, would facilitate more ease in business—moving towards a “modern, transparent, stable and predictable” tax regime. “We have moved 32 places up in the world competitiveness index of WEF…We reformed FDI in 21 sectors. More than 90 per cent of FDI is on automatic route,” he said, adding that FDI inflow of $55.6 billion in 2015-16 was an all time-high and has grown.
Modi also countered criticism on the impact on small businesses, saying the GST Council had set up panels of ministers to look into the problems faced by such enterprises, with changes likely during the Council’s next meeting on November 9.