Govt is Introducing Reforms to Improve Ease of Doing Business in Pakistan

Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood said that the government will strive to improve Ease of Doing Business (EODB) ranking under 100 through comprehensive reforms strategy for providing a conducive business environment to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

“We are expecting an improvement of more than 20 positions this year in the overall score of World Bank (WB) EODB world annual Index report from a position of 108 to 88 to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country,” Razak Dawood told APP.

The advisor said Pakistan had an unprecedented improvement in EoDB ranking last year and “we wanted to continue the momentum and build on our success in coming years.”

He said that Ease of Doing Business Pakistan has improved from 136 to 108 the number of EoDB ranks in the last year 2019-20, which shows the government’s commitment to improving the business environment. The government is focusing on all 10 indicators measured by the World Bank Index annual report, he added.

He informed that in this context 74 reform actions relating to these business indicators have been completed and being taken up with the DB team for their consideration.

While talking on these reforms, Dawood said that Company registration and registration with all provincial authorities have become easy and online without involving human handling. He said that the company can now be registered in one day with the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Replying to another question on provincial departments from improving EODB, he said that data is transferred to Labor Dept, Punjab Employees Social Security Institute (PESSI), Sindh Employees Social Security Institute SESSI, and Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institute (EOBI) in real-time and only SECP portal is used.

End to End integration of 9 departments has been made and waiving off the fee by labor department Sindh will also reduce the cost for businesses to be operated in Sindh as well, he said.

He said that Punjab had already waived off labor fees last year and similarly Omission of provisions regarding the company’s common seal will lead to a reduction in one procedure and associated time. SECP has notified the rules for the Corporate Rehabilitation Act 2018. Now companies can get full benefits of resolution of insolvency.

He said that the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) amended their by-laws to facilitate the applicants and has outsourced the inspections regime for the first time in Punjab. National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has revised the Consumer Service Manual for ease of getting commercial connections and turn-around time for new connections has been reduced from 106 to 58 days, he said.

Dawood further said that the government of Punjab has also amended CPC Act to curtail adjournments and to comply with time standards and apart from these initiatives, Govt of Punjab and Sindh have also started ADR mechanism to promote out of court settlement.

Financial Institution (Secured Transactions) Act 2016 has been amended through an ordinance and under the law, an E-Registry has been established and businesses can keep their moveable property as collateral for getting credit. Replying to a question, he said that FBR has simplified and fully automated the procedure for Sales Tax Registration and now Sales Tax Registration Number (STRN) can be obtained within minutes.

He said that EOBI, PESSI, and SESSI have made the payment of pension contributions online. The Ministry of Commerce has removed the requirement of obtaining a Price Certificate for exports of cotton yarn, he said

Replying to another question on the government introduced strategy for EODB, to facilitate small business at local levels, he said that in addition to the EODB initiative, the government is also working on two other initiatives to facilitate small businesses at the local level.

He said that under Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative (PRMI), the Board of Investment has initiated mapping through federal ministries, divisions, organizations of various processes involved in granting licenses, NOCs, Permissions, Approvals through a mapping exercise.

Dawood added that after mapping, redundant rules/regulations will be removed, and remaining will be rationalized. This regulatory cleaning will reduce the Road Blocks for businesses and facilitate them to materialize their projects and plans.

The advisor said that besides, our Government has also established a project management unit at BOI for facilitating companies and SMEs interested to park their industries at various SEZs established under SEZs as well as under CPEC industrial cooperation.

Additionally, BOI facilitation wing is mandated to facilitate local and foreign investors for resolution of various issues during entry, stay, and even during the exit process, he said.

He said that during last year BOI has been able to facilitate many companies for resolving their issues and providing them support for getting permission for establishing branch and liaison offices and visa facilitation to businesses as well.