We recently sat down with Hassan Daud, the CEO of KP-BOIT and got a chance to discuss the different initiatives at KP-BOIT, how its contributing towards a Digital Pakistan, and the Board’s plans for IT development in the province.
Q. What steps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is taking to become a more attractive destination for the companies to have their headquarters in?
In the last few years KP has taken center stage, not just only in geo-political but also geo-economical terms. Peace and stability in Afghanistan has led KP to become a stepping-stone towards any trade and business activity in the region. New border sites are also being opened with Afghanistan.
As we have historic linkages with Central Asia, the old silk route connecting with China provides an opportunity for both the countries to build a new corridor for business activities. There are few initiatives that will develop investor’s interest and will eventually bring more investment in KP. Initiatives such as Thakot – Raikot highway projects under CPEC, also the ML-1 railway project, which will come from Karachi to Peshawar, are worth mentioning here.
Government of KP realizes CPEC to be a great opportunity for the province to get the required attention and the economic stability it deserves. Pakistan and China have also recently signed first development agreement of Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and we are looking to open more economic zones and small industrial estates.
Also, under Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative, KP has also taken steps towards easing of Regulatory Regimes, particularly for construction sector including reduction of Land Registration tax from 6% to 2%, elimination of Capital Value tax, elimination of Registration/ Licensing fee for more than 120 businesses by local Government, exemption of Local Council tax on transfer of immovable property, exemption of Registration fee on Deeds and Mutations, reduction of sales tax on services from 15% to 2%, elimination of Entertainment tax and Bed tax for hotels and free re-registration of vehicles.
We are also working to improve our human resource by providing them trainings. Vocational trainings are being provided through Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA). Such initiatives have placed KP in a very strong position.
Q. What are KP’s initiatives for Digital Pakistan?
When I took over as the CEO Board of Investment, our desire as a team was to create an environment which can attract investment. In that respect, our first initiative was Digital KP and we linked the project with ease of doing business, which is the key priority of KP Government.
We have created digital one-window, where 16 government services such as building approvals, plot allotment, registering new businesses are available under one-window. Steps have also been taken to digitize Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme under one-window.
We talked to potential players including female entrepreneurs regarding the situation of e-commerce. We have set-up an e-commerce council after realizing the importance of e-commerce in today’s world.
We have also held talks with major companies such as Nayatel and Zong to improve connectivity in the region. This also aligns with the TEVTA initiative.
In this time and age, Pakistan cannot afford to further lag behind by not going digital.
Q. What are the 5 most exciting things KP-BOIT has done over the last 5 years?
The most important part was to set up a new website, where information about every project is readily available and is interactive for the investors. We created a digital map of all the districts of KP which has made it very easy when talking to the investors.
Another initiative currently under progress is to convert state-owned investment authority into a corporate style investment body. As such initiatives focus on the future, we are trying to involve the youth in these projects. Although, we are still an autonomous body of the government, we are trying to work like an enterprise.
Third initiative is the digital connectivity and one-window portal which I have talked about earlier.
We have set-up a number of Special Economic Zones and now the government has also handed-over me the responsibility to be the CEO of KP-Special Economic Zone Authority. It is a very challenging task as on one side we are setting up a regulatory framework and on the other hand we are looking for investors.
The fifth thing we were able to do in the past few months was to craft a new industrial policy. The policy will provide a lot of incentives to the investors and is currently being reviewed by the cabinet. Hopefully it will be approved in the next 2 or 3 meetings.
Another thing we were able to achieve was to create a commerce and trade strategy which had never been created previously. This strategy will also help the federal government in developing the trade and commerce policy. This involves opening new border sites with Afghanistan and also new border bazaars.
There are several other initiatives underway along with these projects.
Q. What is your vision for KP Board of Investment and what is your plan for the next 2 to 3 years?
Our main mission is to project the friendlier aspect of KP, especially for the investors. We want to deliver on the promises that have been made in regards to the incentives that are being offered. Unless we ensure that all promises are fulfilled we won’t be successful. We want to become a bridge between the investors and the government bodies, so we can move swiftly towards the industrialization of the province.
Q. What are the major roadblocks to the digital inclusion in Pakistan and what steps can be taken to fix it?
Digital connectivity is certainly a great enabler. Also we are not embracing the advancement in artificial intelligence as fast as we should, as the fourth industrial revolution is knocking on our doors.
We are also experiencing less women participation in economic activities in KP, so this is one area that we have to work on. We want to create synergy between the provincial and federal government through digital Pakistan, so when an investor comes to any province, they will get the complete picture and satisfaction of ease of doing business in any province.