Viewpoint: How Easy Is It to Do Business in India, After All?
By Rajeev Jayaswal
The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2019 report ranked India 77th among 190 countries, a 23-notch improvement from the previous year. Sure, India has a long way to go to be counted as one of the world’s most attractive investment destinations. It now ranks between Uzbekistan and Oman. To achieve its ambition of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 and doubling that in the next eight years, India certainly needs to claw its way further up the rankings.
There could be structural reasons for India remaining out of the top 50 nations in the ease of doing business, but the biggest challenge is regulatory, experts say. It is exhausting for businesses and individuals to navigate the regulatory gauntlet because of overreach by enforcing agencies, and it is often manifested in the execution of direct and indirect tax laws. This is what has come to be known as “tax terrorism”.
India-based consultants who guide domestic and international businesses on their investment choices often cite some laws and their enforcement as big impediments to ease of doing business in India. Among them are the Income-Tax (I-T) Act, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act and even the laws governing corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Photo courtesy of Satish Krishnamurthy.