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October 22, 2019

WB Ease of Doing Business report: Pakistan made progress on six reforms out of 10

Top Story

October 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan could have shown improvement in eight indicators in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) report 2020 instead of six if the country had undertaken reforms on two key fronts, including reforming district courts and disbursement of loans to the SME sector.

Top official sources confirmed to a select group of reporters on Monday that the World Bank’s President David Malpass along with expert on EODB Mr Siman is scheduled to visit Islamabad from October 31, 2019 in order to praise Pakistan for making progress on account of six reforms out of total 10 major indicators for gauging the performance in ranking of Ease of Doing Business Report 2020 among total 190 countries of the world.

The EODB wants to see progress on district courts because the lower judiciary deals with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Secondly, the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) had not yet finalised mechanism for sharing details with Non-Banking Financial Institutions.

Despite making significant progress by the country in EODB report for 2020, the steering committee could not meet once after sworn in by the premier in last 14 months. Now it is proposed that the steering committee under chairmanship of the prime minister might meet on November 1, 2019 when the WB’s president will be visiting Islamabad.

Pakistan became in the list of top 20 reformers mainly because there were certain reforms that were introduced in last few years under the dispensation of last PML-N-led government but now benefited the country when WB’s EODB report recognised these reforms. The uninterrupted supply of electricity for 100 days were now recognised by EODB report 2020 because the power supply improved. Punjab government under PML-N-led regime had made improvement on registration of land that was now officially recognised in EODB report.

The World Bank’s EODB report for 2020 will be launched on October 24, 2019. On eve of launching of EODB for 2020, the WB president will be visiting Saudi Arabia on October 24 as the KSA stood at first among top 20 reformers by undertaking nine reforms out of total 10.

The World Bank declared Pakistan among top 20 reformers as Islamabad clinched top position among South East Asian economies including India that made improvements on four reforms and Bangladesh 3 reforms. China made progress on 8 indicators while Saudi Arabia clinched top position by making improvement in nine indicators out of total 10. It is yet known how much notches Pakistan made improvements in overall ranking of EODB for 2020.

In a background briefings, top officials said that EODB for 2020 recognised six major reforms and first of them was starting business as the number of procedures were reduced, reduced time for registration of business due to online NTN registration and reduction in cost of fee that was waived by Labour Department, Lahore. The second reform endorsed by EODB for 2020 report included getting construction permits as in Karachi the reduction in time required to obtain from Sindh Building Authority, reduced time for getting water connection, completion certificate and reduction in number of procedures while in Lahore the time reduced for getting connection of water and sewerage, building permit, No Objection Certificate from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and completion certificate. On third indicator, Pakistan made progress on getting electricity number of hours power supply increased in major cities of Karachi and Lahore. The Karachi possessed weightage of 65 percent and Lahore 35 percent in the sample survey to come up with findings of EODB.

Pakistan undertook fourth reforms in area of registration of property as time decreased for execution and registration of deeds with the sub-registrar due to digital scanning of unit in Karachi and time decreased for obtaining PT-1 in Lahore. Pakistan also made progress on paying taxes that was recognised as fifth reform by the EODB report for 2020. The sixth reform undertaken by Islamabad is on front of trading across border as 80 percent departments were connected with WeBOC, a customs clearance system for dealing with imports and exports of the country.

For the way forward, Pakistan will have to expand its doing business reforms in Peshawar and Quetta. Pakistan, they said, will have to undertake 91 reforms over the period of next three years.

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