The Doing Business Report and the Ease of Doing Business Index is one of the flagship reports of the World Bank Group, a co-publication of World Bank and International Finance Corporation – the private arm of the World Bank Group.
The report gets massive media attention and influences governments and business in ways which direct policies and global financial flows.
The report mentions World Bank’s support for developing countries and directs investment from private firms and global financial flows. Private businesses use the Doing Business reports to direct their investments to the countries, which encourage them to invest in a project/sector by changing their laws.
The Ease of Doing Business Report has become a tool over time to force radical reforms on emerging economies without any opposition, which was earlier present when the IFIs tried to influence policy and economy through the structural adjustment policies.
Of late, India is in this bandwagon with massive changes that are being brought to align with the demands of the business whether it is on deregulating the labour market, the introduction of GST, insolvency codes, allowing an increase in FDI in critical sectors including defence. There has been a marked change in the country with more than 7,000 reforms catering to changes which businesses need for starting, doing and exiting from the business. To cite an example, India was flagged in the first doing business report as a country with more regulated labour market and the most inefficient insolvency system with the slowest in time and cost of the bankruptcy proceeding which requires 10 years. However, after the doing business reports Indian policies changed rapidly. The time and cost of the proceeding have come down substantially and have a new Insolvency law in place.
Even though there is a growing understanding of the influential role of Doing Business Report, there is a need to connect and attribute the changes to which people are fighting on the ground. The influences made by IFIs through the Ease of Doing Business have huge bearing on the changes in the policy frameworks whether it is on Forest Rights Act, which the forest dwelling communities are fighting or the entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail which among other the hawkers are resisting, or the changes in urban construction norms which are being challenged by urban groups. The same is the case with various banking sector reforms and insolvency processes or the changes in labour regulations directly affecting the safety and rights of the people working in the factories.
This booklet is an attempt to bring some of the issues together to make better linkages with what is changing on the ground and who is perpetuating them.