ISLAMABAD: The government Thursday launched the 6th Doing Business Reforms Action Plan and Investment Promotion Strategy aimed at making the environment for business and investment more friendly, easy and less time consuming.
The reforms it has made so far will help further boost Pakistan’s ranking on the World Bank EODB-2021 report. In EODB-2020, Pakistan made sizable improvement of 28th notches and jumped to 108th place from last year's ranking of 136th.
The Board of Investment (BOI) – in collaboration with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom – organized a seminar on "Doing Business Reforms in Pakistan" and launched "6th Ease of Doing Business Reform Action Plan'' and BOI's "Investment Promotion Strategy 2020-2023" here on Thursday.
Fareena Mazhar, Secretary BOI, said Pakistan's investment to GDP ratio over the last five years was average 15 percent whereas the average ratio of regional countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, and Thailand was around 25pc.
She was optimistic that a better and conducive business climate would be instrumental in improving investment and growth.
She specifically mentioned the Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative (PRMI) and highlighted that every province had its own comparative and competitive advantage and providing enabling business environment was the key to make good use of this advantage.
She said excellent coordination between federal and provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab had become a successful model of collaboration and would be replicated in other federating units as well for the benefit of the whole country and its citizens.
BOI's new investment promotion strategy focuses on proactively engaging investors in priority sectors and ensuring that BOI provides the support and facilitation services needed to assist them with their investments. Supporting existing investors to solve regulatory and other issues is a key part of BOI's commitment to serve investors in Pakistan.
World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Mr. Najy Benhassine appreciated the efforts of federal government as well as the governments of Punjab and Sindh. He stated that the reform process needed a lot of efforts on the behalf of public sector.
“I am quite impressed noting the 39 position jumps in Ease of Doing Business ranking in the last two years.” He highlighted that improvement in Ease of Doing Business in Pakistan was the result of collective and coordinated efforts by the federal and provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab over the last few years. This momentum needs to be sustained in the coming years for Pakistan to continue to make progress. They also assured BOI of the continued support of World Bank Group to Pakistan in future.
Shabana Khawar, Principal Country Officer International Finance Corporation Pakistan, congratulated the BOI and other relevant agencies for a big achievement in Ease of Doing Business. She also emphasized the vital role of BOI in attracting investment for the country.
She was of the view that the new investment strategy owing to COVID-19 was a very timely process. Both World Bank and IFC assured to continue their cooperation with BOI and provincial government with an objective to improve investment climate in Pakistan.
Mukarram Jah Ansari, Additional Secretary BOI, highlighted the key reforms undertaken during this year and planned for the next year, which include simple tax regime, online facilities with respect to construction permit and land registration. He also mentioned various amendments undertaken to facilitate the businesses.
He acknowledged the efforts of all stakeholders and stated that Pakistan has consistently made efforts to improve the business environment in the country in collaboration with World Bank, International Finance Corporation and UKaid.
Referring to the 6th Reform Action Plan, Ansari underlined few key initiatives such as online complaints by Nepra, online banking account opening facility by SECP, designating commercial courts in Sindh and national one window for trading across borders.
Riffat Pervaiz, Executive Director General BOI, briefed the participants about the new investment promotion strategy 2023. The new strategy is impact oriented and focused investor conceived market driven projects. This strategy is devised to attract investors, facilitate their startups, and nurture their long-term expansion and linkages.
Qurat-ul-Ain, Director Sindh Investment Department, stated that Sindh government was very keen for improvement of business environment in the province and informed that the Sindh Doing Business Reforms Council (SDBRC) had already been actively working to this end.
He also apprised the participants that a dedicated Doing Business Reforms Implementation Unit was coordinating with all the government functionaries, private sector organizations and all other related business stakeholders so that anyone who wanted to start or run a business in Sindh could easily get licenses, permits and other relevant permissions.
Imran Sikandar Baloch, Secretary P&D Punjab, said the Punjab government was striving to implement a comprehensive reform agenda. Obtaining a building permit has been simplified through the electronic submission of applications and integration of Wasa and Tepa with LDA. He also intimated that a host of measures had been taken to facilitate Registering Property and contract enforcement in Punjab.
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