With massive interventions in the labour department aimed at doing away with archaic systems in place, J&K government has moved swiftly up the ladder in ‘ease of doing business’ ranking in India. Lagging at position 31, in April 2017, it has already reached to No 22.
Of the 372 recommendations that central government’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had made to the state, the bulk of – 117 – were pertaining to the Labour Department. It has tackled 106, so far and the balance 11 observations are being taken care of in the approaching quarter, sources in the Labour Department said.
Ease of Doing System is a World Bank mechanism that has been rolled over to the member countries. Aimed at helping create a better environment for investment and expansion, in India, it is Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) partnering with it.
DIPP has been creating a state raking every year on basis of 340-point Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) for States/UTs. The BRAP envisaged bench-marking reforms on 58 regulatory processes, policies, practices or procedures spread across 10 reform areas spanning the lifecycle of a typical business.
In October 2016, J&K was at No 32 in the 36-state long list. The study, the final findings of which are being released in later November, has put J&K in fourth category of states including Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Daman & Diu, Assam, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Puducherry, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep. All these states have scored below 40% on basis of the date and details they submitted to the study portal. In last quarter of the last fiscal, it moved just a notch up.
“Labour related issues were the biggest obstacle in moving up the rank in ease of doing business ladder,” Finance and Labour Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu said. “We improved safety net of the labour force, did a comprehensive labour law draft, intervened in remuneration part after getting experts to manage the grey area and responded to most of the observations.”
Drabu who also presided over addressing all the 20 observations in the Commercial Taxes front said the ranking will improve further by the end of the year. “I hope we reach the No 15 position in India,” he said. Industries department has also addressed all the 58 points that pertained to it. Pollution Control Board has addressed 40 out of 47 issues. Fire and Emergency Services has managed all the six. Law Department has tackled 14 of 23 recommendations.
But the government may still have to struggle to move ahead on the ladder as various departments have exhibited the traditional sluggish pace.
Power Development Department, for instance, has addressed one observation against 18 pertaining to it. PHE, PWD, Revenue, and Forests have not actually done anything.
Against 372 recommendations, 270 are tackled to the level that their responses have gone to the monitoring agency. But it still leaves crucial 102 that are still unattended. All the responses had to go to the DIPP by the first week of November.
Sources said some of the responses from the state government agencies have been responded by the monitoring agency seeking additional information. Once this all is collated, the ranking will go up.
In J&K, the entire business fraternity has been insisting that the state government should embrace the Ease of Doing Set up so that it helps them reduce costs on procedures and archaic systems. While the government says it has moved quite swiftly, the larger issue remains, if it moved out of the files for implementation on ground. Sources said the Ease of Doing Process will be tackled in the forthcoming budget.