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November 1, 2019

WB to help Pakistan in bringing more reforms

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November 1, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, and the visiting World Bank’s President David Malpass on Thursday celebrated Islamabad’s huge improvement on the ranking of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) and the bank assured its firm support to help Pakistan further in bringing more reforms on various fronts to make doing business easier in years to come.

“It’s pleasure to be here in Pakistan and join those of you who have championed the Ease of Doing Business and done so much work, thank you Prime Minister, thank you everyone. The reforms you undertaken would create better jobs and higher incomes, attract more investment and generate more tax revenues. I also want to encourage more reforms to spur growth and raise living standards,” the president of the World Bank Group expressed his views at the Doing Business Reforms Exhibition arranged by the government to celebrate this great achievement on Thursday.

The World Bank president was accompanied by Regional VP South Asia Hartwig Schafer, Ms. Ceyla Pazarbasioglu-Dutz, Regional Vice President IFC Ms. Snezana Stolijkovic and Country Director World Bank Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the BOI, Sindh, and Punjab government for the hard work they put in for making this improvement. He thanked the World Bank president for coming to celebrate this great achievement. He said we are also involving the bank in developing infrastructure of Karachi.

Khan said what we want right now, the gain we have made 28 points up, it’s thebeginning what we must start up with is a different mindset, that making money is not a sin as long as you pay your taxes. This mindset in Pakistan is extremely important if we have to create wealth. Wealth creation is how it will help in getting out of current situation.

We have big deficits. Current account deficit has narrowed down but still we have fiscal deficit. Creation of wealth would help the country collect more taxes that would be spent on the human beings. This is the model for Pakistan. And we want industrialization, we want wealth creation, we want lift people out of poverty.

“Contact enforcement is a challenge; we cannot invite investments, unless and until investors have trust on our judicial system. And I hope to be working with current chief justice who is one of the best jurists and one of the best minds in the justice system. He said that we already working on criminal justice system,” Khan said.

The other thing is how we get contracts enforced. “We have already suffered, major damages have been awarded against Pakistan i.e. Reko Diq, Karkey and it all because of justice system.”

We have to get the female population in national building. World Bank president said that there are more reforms under the EODB, reforms needed to protect women’s welfare, and include them in the economy, reforms needed to strengthen the energy and education sectors and reforms needed to simplify taxation.

Last week we launched our annual report on EODB which provides snapshot of the rules and regulations that affects businesses in every country.

“Pakistan emerged one of the top 10 reformers this year, this would add to the growth and jobs over time. Pakistan carried out the most reforms in South Asia region, your country jumped to 108th place in the ranking from 136th last year. Your reforms made easier for entrepreneurs to start business, get electricity and construction permits, register property, pay taxes and trade across the borders,” he said. Many of these advances leverage digital technologies to make the process more transparent and streamlined.

“I congratulate your Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and your teams for the achievement. Ownership of the reforms at the highest level makes a big difference.”

The Bank’s President said, “The federal government and two provincial governments [Sindh and Punjab] showed great cooperation and working together to improve the EODB. It is critical that federal and provincial governments map, harmonize, eliminate and automate tax filing procedures and ‘I urge to go even farther to fully digitalize the process”.

The improvement in EODB would give a boost to the overall investment climate for the private sector especially for micro, small and medium enterprises. We already see positive interest in number of sectors including energy and access to finance.

Pakistan has opportunity to further improvement in EODB i.e. in area of enforcing contracts ranks low at 156th. It takes 1055 days to resolve commercial dispute in Lahore, 1096 days in Karachi. This is almost twice the 573 days average among high income OECD economies.

Pakistan can still work on improving the quality of judicial process, an area it performed below the South Asia region average.

Acting High Commissioner United Kingdom Richard Crowder said, “Today off course it is an opportunity for celebration and congratulations, but I am offering my condolences on behalf of Prime Minister and government and the people of the United Kingdom, the tragic event have in Pakistan today. We feel the pain of today’s event with the Pakistani people.” He said, “What is good for Pakistan is good for the UK too.”

Today is opportunity for celebration on this remarkable rise in Pakistan ranking. It is not work of just one year but sustained efforts by many public servants in over many years to turn around the business environment and that is truly would be a generational effect.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that Karachi is the 7th largest metropolis in the world. In Pakistan’s ranking, it has two-third weightage. There are various infrastructure projects we are executing with the support of World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). “We want to move beyond Karachi and take doing business spirit to the rest of cities in the province.

He said, “For this success, I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister of Pakistan and teams of the federal departments, Punjab Chief Minister, Punjab government and my team in Sindh.” “I reaffirm my commitment to the doing business objectives. The government of Sindh will not rest until Pakistan breaks through the top 50 economies in Ease of Doing Business.”

Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Adviser on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr. Ishrat Hussain, SAPM Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar, Governor State Bank Raza Baqir, Chairman FBR Syed Shabbar Zaidi and senior officers were also present at this occasion.

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