Govt to open ease of doing business offices

These will remove obstacles, facilitate investors in business operations


APP January 09, 2019
These will remove obstacles, facilitate investors in business operations. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting on Wednesday in which it was resolved that dedicated ease of doing business (EODB) offices would be established at federal and provincial levels for removing bottlenecks and facilitating investors in smooth business operations.

It was decided that the prime minister would regularly chair EODB meetings alongside provincial chief ministers and chief secretaries.

The meeting was held at the Prime Minister's Office in a bid to review progress on improving Pakistan's ranking on the EODB index.

The Board of Investment (BOI) chairman briefed the prime minister about the movement of EODB indicators.

It was reiterated that the number of tax payments had been slashed from 47 to 21 while efforts were under way to introduce e-payments for social security contribution in Sindh and Punjab.

Ease of Doing Business index: Pakistan’s ranking improves by 11 notches to 136th position

In addition to that, he announced that a new system for value-added tax (VAT) refunds would be in place by March 31, which would significantly narrow down the time spent on receiving VAT refunds.

The BOI chairman said efforts were under way to improve the risk management system in order to slash the number of physical audits.

About the ease of starting a business, the prime minister was apprised that integration of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) with provincial portals and the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had been completed in Punjab and attempts were being made to expedite the launch of a portal in Sindh too.

The prime minister was told that significant progress had been made to facilitate the provision of electricity and timely information to businesses in an attempt to improve Pakistan's ranking in the getting electricity indicator.

Besides availability of required documents on the website, a full online application system was being rolled out and advance notifications were being ensured about the change in tariff and other modifications.

In the area of receiving credit, it was pointed out that a registrar would be appointed by the end of current month and rules under the Secured Transaction Act were being finalised by the Ministry of Finance.

The BOI chairman also briefed the meeting about the steps being taken to facilitate trading across borders and reducing the clearance time for imports and exports.

Pakistan now ranked 147th in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index

Moreover, he identified various issues, most of which were related to Sindh regarding the integration of the SECP and EOBI with the provincial portal, end-to-end automation of construction permits and availability of complete electronic database of the property registry.

The prime minister emphasised the need for greater focus on addressing the EODB issues related to Sindh since Karachi was the financial hub of the country.

Regarding positive developments pertaining to investment facilitation, it was highlighted that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on industrial cooperation was signed with China last month.

An MoU with Saudi Arabia is expected to be signed during the current month whereas an investment framework MoU with the United Arab Emirates is likely to be inked in February.

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