Unified Digital Identity for Ease of Doing Business

The recent Ease of Doing Business Ranking puts India at 130th position as compared to 131st last year. This is just one position gain, which seems pale in front of the 12 positions gain last year.

That’s expected to increase dramatically next year as many important digital enabled service reforms have not been available for the full year when the evaluation was done, hence they are not taken into account. The next couple of year’s evaluation must be able to take into account these big ticket reforms in the areas of government payments and receipts, starting a new business, income tax, EPFO, NPS etc. And the biggest reform in the form of GST must add substantially. That will be interesting to watch as multiple reforms help India boost its ease of doing rank.

But is is enough? May be not!

With so many services being launched, equal numbers of digital identities get created. Managing multiple interactions with as many government departments with as many identities is not an easy task. Any businessman will understand the problem of having to manage multiple numbers like PAN, Service Tax, TAN etc. and remember so many ids and passwords. They pose difficulties on account of lack of convenience, privacy and security.

They need to be unified in some way. Can there be One Government concept, which means one virtually deals with one entity for all the services and not with multiple departments. That will require one digital identity through which each part of government identifies the citizen, be it corporate or individuals. On the personal side, will it be Aadhaar in some point in future? Will there be a similar single identity for the corporate entities too?

Yes, it is quite possible. If we take the example of CorpPass initiative of Singapore, one can confidently say that it is possible. It’s a first of its kind initiative rolled out by the Ministry of Finance, Government of Singapore.

CorpPass is a corporate digital identity for businesses and other entities (such as non-profit organisations and associations) to transact with Government agencies online. CorpPass marks the first time that the Government is rolling out a single corporate digital identity. This creates opportunities for even more services and transactions to be provided online conveniently and securely.

A single corporate digital identity will result into increased convenience for users, who long longer will need to handle multiple login IDs to deal with multiple government departments for multiple services. CorpPass will also give the businesses a greater control, as they will be able to manage employees access to Government digital services. More than 200 Government digital services managed by about 60 Government agencies will require CorpPass as a login method by December 2017.

This will surely require a seamless integration between the systems which operate separately today. Integrating the direct and indirect tax receipts, tax deduction at source, EPFO, ESIC etc. shall result in transparency for the government, giving its revenues a boost. It will help curb tax evasion and give way to the paradigm of ‘willingness for tax payment’. Some of the work has begun, e.g. integrating income tax with TDS helps business convenience on one hand and government’s visibility on the other.

A single digital identity shall mean greater convenience, better control and enhanced privacy.

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