Having catapulted 53 ranks to 77th spot on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings over the past two years, India is now aspiring to make it to the Top 50 rankings. And in order to get there, the Centre is reportedly looking to tweak norms for retail trade.
Sources in the know told The Economic Times that the country is looking at a national policy for retail, special retail trade zones on the lines of Special Economic Zones, and enacting a 365-days working policy, among other measures to climb higher on the index that ranks 190 nations. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the nodal agency for all matters related to ecommerce, discussed these issues in a meeting with stakeholders on Saturday.
"The government wants to improve India's ranking and simplify labour laws such as the Shops and Establishment Act," a person who attended the meeting told the daily. According to another participant, the meeting was called in the context of a likely meeting of a committee of secretaries this week to discuss ways to lift India into the top 50 club.
This target was sounded out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week and he had added that the government was working on a new industrial policy to blend realities with progress. "A policy which can understand the industry...this policy will be in line with the vision of a new India," he had said, adding that efforts are on to increase the size of the economy to $5 trillion.
In the 2019 'Doing Business' report, India secured 77th position, jumping 23 ranks from 100 in the previous survey, emerging the top-ranked country in South Asia for the first time. We now rank third among the BRICS nations, while New Zealand tops the rankings, followed by Singapore, Denmark and Hong Kong. The index ranks 190 countries on the basis of 10 indicators, including starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting credit, trading across borders and enforcing contracts.
At the DIPP meeting, industry representatives also discussed how women should be allowed to work in night shifts after 8pm in a safe working environment, and that all establishments be permitted to function throughout the year on the lines of information technology companies. "The meeting was called to strengthen overall retail trade and ecommerce was also discussed there," a source told the daily. "A policy restricting deep discounts and foreign direct investments is much needed."
The attendees also deliberated on the need for a national policy for retail. Currently, only three states, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, boast formal policies. In addition, retailers reportedly raised issues related to incentives for digital payments, a national ecommerce policy and accidental insurance of traders at the meeting.
(Edited by Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal)