Economics for Everyone – Ease of Doing Business

Prof. M. Guruprasad, Professor, Universal Business School | Mumbai | February 09, 2017 11:10 IST

The Doing Business Report (DB) is a study elaborated by the World Bank Group since 2003 every year that is aimed to measure the costs to firms of business regulations in 189 countries.

In the World Bank's latest 'Doing Business' 2017 report, India's place remained unchanged from last year's original ranking of 130 among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters.
Ease of doing business index
The ease of doing business index is an index created by the World Bank Group. Higher rankings (a low numerical value) indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights. Empirical research funded by the World Bank to justify their work show that the economic growth impact of improving these regulations is strong.
The Doing Business Report (DB) is a study elaborated by the World Bank Group since 2003 every year that is aimed to measure the costs to firms of business regulations in 189 countries. The study has become one of the flagship knowledge products of the World Bank Group in the field of private sector development, and is claimed to have motivated the design of several regulatory reforms in developing countries. The study presents every year a detailed analysis of costs, requirements and procedures a specific type of private firm is subject in all countries, and then, creates rankings for every country. The study is also backed up by broad communication efforts, and by creating rankings, the study spotlights countries and leaders that are promoting reforms.
It has been widely known and used by academics, policy-makers, politicians, development experts, journalists and the business community to highlight red tape and promote reforms. As stated by the IEG study from the World Bank: “For country authorities, it sheds a bright, sometimes unflattering, light on regulatory aspects of their business climate. For business interests, it has helped to catalyze debates and dialogue about reform. For the World Bank Group, it demonstrates an ability to provide global knowledge, independent of resource transfer and conditionality. The annual exercise generates information that is relevant and useful.”
The foundation of Doing Business is the notion that economic activity, particularly private sector development, benefits from clear and coherent rules: Rules that set out and clarify property rights and facilitate the resolution of disputes. And rules that enhance the predictability of economic interactions and provide contractual partners with essential protections against arbitrariness and abuse. Such rules are much more effective in shaping the incentives of economic agents in ways that promote growth and development where they are reasonably efficient in design, are transparent and accessible to those for whom they are intended and can be implemented at a reasonable cost. The quality of the rules also has a crucial bearing on how societies distribute the benefits and finance the costs of development strategies and policies. Good rules are a key to social inclusion. Enabling growth—and ensuring that all people, regardless of income level, can participate in its benefits—requires an environment where new entrants with drive and good ideas can get started in business and where good firms can invest and expand. The role of government policy in the daily operations of domestic small and medium-size firms is a central focus of the Doing Business data. The objective is to encourage regulation that is designed to be efficient, accessible to all and simple to implement. Onerous regulation diverts the energies of entrepreneurs away from developing their businesses. But regulation that is efficient, transparent and implemented in a simple way facilitates business expansion and innovation, and makes it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to compete on an equal footing.
Doing Business measures aspects of business regulation for domestic firms through an objective lens. The focus of the project is on small and medium-size companies in the largest business city of an economy. Based on standardized case studies, Doing Business presents quantitative indicators on the regulations that apply to firms at different stages of their life cycle. The results for each economy can be compared with those for 189 other economies and over time.
Doing Business captures several important dimensions of the regulatory environment as it applies to local firms. It provides quantitative indicators on regulation for starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency . Doing Business also measures features of labour market regulation. Although Doing Business does not present rankings of economies on the labour market regulation indicators or include the topic in the aggregate distance to frontier score or ranking on the ease of doing business, it does present the data for these indicators.
What Doing Business measures—11 areas of business regulation
Indicator set What is measured
Starting a business Procedures, time, cost and paid-in minimum capital to start a limited liability company
Dealing with construction permits Procedures, time and cost to complete all formalities to build a warehouse and the quality control and safety mechanisms in the construction permitting system
Getting electricity Procedures, time and cost to get connected to the electrical grid, the reliability of the electricity supply and the transparency of tariffs
Registering property Procedures, time and cost to transfer a property and the quality of the land administration system
Getting credit Movable collateral laws and credit information systems
Protecting minority investors Minority shareholders’ rights in related-party transactions and in corporate governance
Paying taxes Payments, time and total tax rate for a firm to comply with all tax regulations as well as post-filing processes
Trading across borders Time and cost to export the product of comparative advantage and import auto parts
Enforcing contracts Time and cost to resolve a commercial dispute and the quality of judicial processes
Resolving insolvency Time, cost, outcome and recovery rate for a commercial insolvency and the strength of the legal framework for insolvency
Labour market regulation Flexibility in employment regulation and aspects of job quality
Economics of Doing Business Report
The Doing Business Report has its origins in a paper first published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics by Simeon Djankov, Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes and Andrei Shleifer called “The Regulation of Entry” in 2002. The paper presented data on the regulation of entry of start-up firms in 85 countries covering the number of procedures, official time and official cost that a start-up must bear before it could operate legally. The main findings of the paper were that: “Countries with heavier regulation of entry have higher corruption and larger unofficial economies, but no better quality of public or private goods. Countries with more democratic and limited governments have lighter regulation of entry.” The paper became widely known because it provided quantitative evidence that entry regulation benefits politicians and bureaucrats without adding value to the private sector, or granting any additional protection.
Doing Business 2017: “Equal Opportunity for All” - Main Findings
  • Entrepreneurs in 137 economies saw improvements in their local regulatory framework last year. Between June 2015 and June 2016, the report, which measures 190 economies worldwide, documented 283 business reforms. Reforms reducing the complexity and cost of regulatory processes in the area of starting a business were the most common in 2015/16, as in the previous year. The next most common reforms were in the areas of paying taxes, getting credit and trading across borders.
  • Brunei Darussalam, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain were the most improved economies in 2015/16 in areas tracked by Doing Business. Together, these 10 top improvers implemented 48 regulatory reforms making it easier to do business.
  • Economies in all regions are implementing reforms easing the process of doing business, but Europe and Central Asia continues to be the region with the highest share of economies implementing at least one reform—96% of economies in the region have implemented at least one business regulatory reform.
  • Doing Business includes a gender dimension in four of the 11 topics sets. Starting a business, registering property and enforcing contracts present a gender dimension for the first time this year. Labor market regulation already captured gender disaggregated data in last year’s report.
  • This year’s report expands the paying taxes topic set to cover post filing processes—what happens after a firm pays taxes—such as tax refunds, tax audits and administrative tax appeals.
  • This year’s report also includes an annex with analysis on a pilot indicator on public procurement regulations.
  • The report features six case studies in the areas of getting electricity, getting credit: legal rights, getting credit: credit information, protecting minority investors, paying taxes and trading across borders as well as two annexes in the areas of labor market regulation and selling to the government. The case studies and annexes either present new indicators or provide further insights from the data collected through methodology changes implemented in the past two years.

India Initiatives
  • According to experts some of the key initiatives by the Indian government which influenced the ease of doing business include
    • Regulatory Reforms, introduction of online processes, Simplified Processes for FDI , Proposed introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and simplification of MAT, Reduction in corporate tax, Polices related to Transfer pricing and Sector-specific Initiatives in Aviation, Oil and Gas, Defence, Coal, Telecommunication, Petrochemical.
Prof. M. Guruprasad, Universal Business School



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