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Temple city among top biz destinations

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 14: It is now official. The capital city has been rated as more business-friendly than all other Indian cities, barring Hyderabad, Bangalore and Jaipur.

Of the 12 Indian cities covered by the World Bank report, Doing Business in South Asia 2007, released yesterday by the World Bank, Calcutta came in last and Mumbai just above Calcutta, as the two cities “impose the most complex and costly business regulations.”

But then, Mumbai and Calcutta, the report added, have a high volume of business, so regulatory and administrative bottlenecks create “serious congestion”.

Out of the remaining 10 cities, Hyderabad emerged as the most business-friendly city, followed by Jaipur, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Lucknow, New Delhi, Patna and Ranchi.

Indeed, Bhubaneshwar secured the highest score among the 12 cities in as many as three indicators. The Orissa capital was found to be the most hassle-free city for businessmen in paying taxes, in getting contracts enforced and in dealing with licenses. And it is ranked the fourth most business-friendly city after Hyderabad, Bangalore and Jaipur.

The report tracks a set of regulatory indicators related to business start-up, operation, trade, payment of taxes and closure of business activities — by measuring the time and cost associated with various government requirements. While the report does take into account the rules and regulations, it does not, however, track variables like quality of infrastructure, investor perception and crime rates.

It is the third report in a series of regional reports. Different local requirements and differences in the implementation of national-level regulations, says Caralee McLiesh, one of the authors of the report, either enhance or constrain local business activity. They also cause substantial differences in the ease of doing business in Indian cities, she adds.

The report, for example, notes that in Hyderabad it takes only 35 days to register property compared to 138 days in New Delhi or 155 days in Calcutta. Also, it is faster to import and export goods through the Chennai and Calcutta ports than through Mumbai.

It is easiest to start a business in Jaipur; while closing a business is easiest in Bangalore.

Since creating jobs is a priority for any government, more business-friendly regulations create more opportunities and more equitable growth, said Simon Bell, World Bank manager for financial and private sector development in South Asia. In India, just over 8 million workers have formal jobs in the private sector, he pointed out, in a country with a workforce of 458 million. More business-friendly regulations, he said, would lead to more jobs.

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