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IFC partners with PBC to improve investment competitiveness

By Our Correspondent
December 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, has collaborated with the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) to increase women participation in economic activities.

IFC and PBC officials signed the partnership agreement on Wednesday. The collaboration is part of the Pakistan Investment Competitiveness project that aims to strengthen the country's ability to attract investment through a series of interventions and consultations with the government and the private sector.

“This project has a strong gender focus as it consists of developing gender diversity indicators and collaborating with the Board of Investment to promote adoption of voluntary disclosure practices by Pakistani companies on an annual basis,” a statement said.

“The Pakistan Business Council’s Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB) will work with IFC, a member of the World Bank group, to increase investment potential in Pakistan.”

CERB is the PBC’s outreach initiatives to build capacity and capability of businesses in Pakistan. CERB’s vision is to assist local businesses to pursue long-term sustainability and value creation, and its mission to contribute towards inclusive social development.

Nadeem Siddiqui, senior country manager of IFC, said the intended outcome of the project is increased awareness of and commitment to gender responsive policies and practices as well as dissemination of responsible business conduct principles amongst firms in Pakistan.

“The project will identify barriers to women employment and entrepreneurship in the key sectors and implement behavioural interventions that encourage more female participation,” Siddiqui said.

The project would focus on a total of five priority sectors for investment promotion, where potential for female participation is identified as high. The sectors include agriculture – food processing, information technology services, automotive, textile, and logistics.

Ehsan Malik, chief executive officer of PBC emphasised disclosure of non-financial indicators as a corporate priority and adoption of inclusive employment policies at the workplace to realise business and economic gains.

PBC is a business policy advocacy platform, established in 2005 by 14 (now 82) of the country’s largest private sector businesses and conglomerates, including multinationals. The PBC is a not-for-profit entity, registered under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984.

The IFC team would work with CERB as a platform comprising member companies of PBC as well as subscribers to CERB’s business coalition forums that support practices of inclusive and sustainable development and ethics and governance and that would increase the adoption of gender inclusive practices and policies and responsible business conduct.

Yawar Ali, chairperson of PBC, said regular reporting facilitates continuous progress, demonstration of good practices, and creates an environment for healthy competition.