LAHORE: Though Pakistan is placed at a dismal 147th rank out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index for 2017, India stands at the 100th place, setting off alarm bells for policymakers.
India has managed to leapfrog to gain a place among top-100 economies by achieving a 30-spot improvement as it was at the 130th position in 2016. The critical support to this achievement came from eight types of reforms.
To the contrary, Pakistan slipped three spots from the 144th place in 2016 despite implementing four reforms.
Earlier, only the private sector looked perturbed about the lack of progress in the ease of doing business, but now the Punjab government is also trying to streamline things at its end in an attempt to facilitate investors and help the country advance on the global index.
Punjab Planning and Development Secretary Iftikhar Ali Sahoo revealed that as a pilot project the province had initiated many reforms which were helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Lahore. However, he emphasised that a perfect working relationship between provincial departments, provincial governments and the federal government could bring the desired results.
“Despite our best of efforts, Punjab can only contribute 35% to making things better and the remaining 65% can be done by the Sindh government in Karachi,” Sahoo said in a session with media.
He was critical of the business regulations in Pakistan that were half a century old and had not been changed significantly with the passage of time. “Time has changed now; previously, there was a concept of controlled economy, but now the entire world is talking about how to facilitate the investors,” he said.
“The world considers such rankings very seriously; without making things better for domestic investors, it is not logical to invite international investors,” he remarked.
According to Sahoo, Punjab has been able to bring improvement in four indicators which include property registration, contract enforcement, construction permits and starting a business. “Rest of the things falls within the federal domain,” he said.
Punjab has set up a portal to register selective business enterprises online aimed at doing away with the tedious process of feeding almost similar information into portals of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan for getting a company incorporated, the Federal Board of Revenue for tax registration and the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution for social security.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2018.