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January 18, 2019

Govt to encourage private sector to boost economy: minister

Lahore

January 18, 2019

LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht has said Prime Minister Imran Khan and the PTI government were committed to catalysing private sector to enable it to contribute to the economy and create new jobs.

Speaking at official report launch of Ease of Doing Business Reforms here on Thursday, the minister said the Punjab government aims to expand the scope of the reforms implemented under the Doing Business Reforms Agenda. The Punjab government is even more committed to Doing Business Reforms Agenda built last year’s success of Pakistan's ranking on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index which saw an improvement from 147 to 136, he said.

Hashim Jawan said Punjab made significant strides on a number of indicators considered while ranking a country on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. “To facilitate Starting a Business, a Business Registration Portal has been developed and launched for registration of businesses with Labour & and Resource Department, Punjab Employees Social Security Institution and Registrar of firms through htrpss:/ /register.business.punjab.gov.pk/. The portal has been integrated with Virtual One Stop Shop (VOSS) and Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan's (SECP). A dedicated helpline has been established to facilitate queries regarding business registration on 042-111-425-725. This has reduced the cost of registering businesses substantially”, he added. On the occasion, Hashim Jawan inaugurated three online platforms aimed at easing of doing business in the province. Through an online platform, the Punjab Land Records Authority (PLRA), through its online platform, has made it possible for land owners to facilitate free of cost online issuance of NOC for the property tax, while Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) has made it possible for business to submit their social security contributions through an online platform. In addition to this Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has launched a portal to receive applications for building permits online. World Bank representative Melinda Good speaking at the occasion lauded the performance of the Pakistan in ease of doing business. ‘Pakistan has improved its ranking on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Index by 11 points this year due to four major reforms and now it stands at 136 out of 190 economies’, she said and emphasised that Pakistan must sustain the momentum and aim at improving its ranking to double digits.

Jindal Shah of DFID speaking at the occasion said that Pakistan made impressive economic achievements. However, Pakistan needs a recipe for 7 percent annual GDP growth and it must stay there for the next twenty five years to join the rank of nations that have made impressive economic achievements in the last century. For this, Pakistan needs strong business environment and investments.

Secretary Board of Investment Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera said that investment to GDP ratio is 25 percent in the region, while it is only 15 percent in Pakistan. He said that three million people enter the job market every year. Only industry can provide jobs to such a large labour force. Government can also provide social services if business flourish and pay taxes, he added. President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Almas Haidar said the role of the government was crucial to facilitate private sector and provide an enabling environment for investors and businesses. Chief Secretary, Punjab, Yousuf Naseem Khokhar said top down solutions did not work, therefore, a strong sense of ownership by the government, stakeholder consultation, effective monitoring and evaluation and feedback mechanism are a must for achieving targets. He assured that the government was fully committed to Ease of Doing Reforms in the province.

Planning and Development Board that leads the doing business reform initiative in the province has embarked upon the agenda of improving the business environment of Punjab. The provincial Ease of Doing Business Reform Agenda is based on two pillars: Continuous implementation of transparent, inclusive and effective policies and good regulatory practices using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) solutions to facilitate businesses.

Secretary Planning and Development Department Iftikhar Ali Sahoo said that the Punjab government top priority was to create an enabling business environment and provide ease to the business community in the province. "Ease of Doing Business Reform Agenda has firm commitment from the top-level management therefore Planning and Development Board has been working tirelessly to improve the Provincial Doing Business Indicators”, he added.

The government has minimised hassle to obtain a building permit. Lahore Development Authority (LDA) in collaboration with the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has automated the building permit issuance system to allow electronic submission of residential and commercial building permit applications, he said.

Similarly, a host of measures taken to facilitate Registering Property has resulted in reducing procedures for property registration from 7 to 4. Moreover, as a result of the joint efforts of Punjab Land Records Authority and Excise & Taxation, free of cost online issuance of NOC for property tax. PLRA has also developed a mobile application for the public to access land records from the convenience of your mobile. Lastly, to facilitate Paying Taxes, employers can now pay monthly social security and pension contributions over the counter at any bank or online, he added.

Sahoo said these reform initiatives taken by the government were not only targeted towards improving the overall ranking on the Doing Business index rather these were aimed at facilitating businesses, creating an enabling business environment and changing perception and mindset of the investors who want to invest in the province.

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