Niti Aayog, along with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), will now be constantly reviewing the on-ground improvements in 87 cities regarding one of the most critical aspects of ‘ease of doing business’ — time taken to obtain a commercial and industrial electricity connection.
The DIPP and the Niti Aayog would be collecting the above data from various states and their implementing agencies. “As a pilot, we plan to start with sourcing information related to ‘average number of days to obtain a commercial and industrial electricity connection’ for a period of six months directly from the states through their implementation agencies,” said Bibek Debroy, member, Niti Aayog, in his letter to Ramesh Abhishek, secretary, DIPP, on August 3 this year. Further, based on the response to this initiative, information related to on-ground improvements of few other parameters of ‘ease of doing business’ as listed by the World Bank, like the time taken for getting construction-related permits or labour permits, would also be sought by the Aayog from the state governments.
In response to Debroy’s letter, Abhishek in his October 19 letter said: “The idea of conducting an exercise to get data regarding actual implementation of the reform in a particular area (getting electricity connection) in selected cities is commendable. We should be able to understand the ground realities through this exercise. DIPP would be happy to support the same.”
According to the plan presented by Debroy in his August 3 letter, Uttar Pradesh’s seven major cities — Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Meerut, Varanasi, Moradabad and Gorakhpur — would be surveyed in the time period of six months. Five cities, each of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Gujarat would be surveyed to check the actual number of days required to take an industrial electricity connection. The days would be counted from the date of receipt of application for the connection, to the date of on-ground installation at the applicant premises.
India improved its ‘ease of doing business’ ranking — released annually by the World Bank — by just one notch, to 131 from last year’s 130, despite several government measures. The latest World Bank rankings were released on October 25. The assessment for these rankings is done on the basis of ten different parameters — some of which include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity connection, registering property and getting credit among others. India’s ranking fell in five out of ten parameters. However, the country also showed improvement in four parameters — the biggest improvement was seen in the area of ‘getting electricity’ where the ranking jumped to 26 from the last year’s 51st position.
“On getting electricity, the report recognised the efforts of Tata Power in Delhi to make it faster and cheaper to obtain a connection. These efforts, combined with efforts in Mumbai last year, have allowed India to improve its rank on this indicator …,” said a government statement on October 25.
The government is pushing to make India break into the top 50 of the international rankings quickly. Recently, it came out with the ‘ease of doing business’ rankings for all the states, which were based on 340 different parameters. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were jointly ranked number one in the exercise which involved The World Bank and the DIPP.
Abhishek’s letter to Debroy mentioned the 340-point parameters for the states.”DIPP has developed a 340-point Business Reform Action Plan for States and Union Territories. The recommendations are spread across 10 broad parameters — access to information and transparency enablers; single window; environment registration enablers; obtaining electricity connection; availability of land, construction permit enablers; inspection reform enablers; labour regulations; online tax return filing and commercial dispute resolution.”
While discussing Debroy’s letter, a DIPP official did mention in an internal note that such an exercise, of sourcing data from the states on 340-point ‘ease of doing business’ parameters, is already being done by the department. “All the critical indicators, mentioned in the letter (of Debroy) have already been taken into consideration by DIPP, and hence it would only be a repetition of the work if Niti Aayog undertakes the same exercise,” said Faiz Aq Ahmed Mumtaz, assistant secretary, DIPP.
In last two years, the central government, as well as various state governments, have taken different steps to improve their ‘ease of doing business’ rankings. As reported by The Indian Express, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) itself has set the targets for various departments in relation to the steps that have to be taken to improve ‘ease of doing business’ in the country. The PMO has asked the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to cut down the examination of consignments at ports, terminals etc to just 10 per cent of the present value through “risk-based criteria”.
“CBEC will follow up with the heads of all agencies (port regulators, airport terminal operators, etc) to address the issue of bringing down number of consignments for examination to 10 per cent through risk-based criteria,” said the minutes of the meeting chaired by Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, on May 7 this year. At the same meeting, the prime Minister’s Office directed the shipping ministry to increase the share of “direct delivery” consignments at Indian ports to
40 per cent by the end of this year. Under the direct port delivery (DPD) system, the imported containers are directly delivered to the pre-approved clients, instead of waiting at container freight stations for clearance. Olli Maatta Womens Jersey