LCCI calls for removal of trade impediments, facilitation of startups

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LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged the government to build a business-friendly environment so that Pakistan’s ranking in the ‘ease of doing business index’ can improve.

“We will have to come at par with the developed nations to strengthen our economy,” LCCI President Almas Hyder said in a statement on Monday, urging the government to separate the processes of registrations from regulations in order to facilitate the companies.

He said that starting a business in Pakistan is a hefty task and one of the major reasons behind the country’s economic woes.

“The ‘ease of doing business’ in Pakistan has long remained below average, with the current international ranking of 136th. Singapore topped this ranking from 2007 to 2016 while New Zealand has been at the helm since 2017. Exports from Singapore jumped to $396.8 billion in 2017 from $338 billion in 2016. Likewise, exports from New Zealand, which has a population of around 4.5 million people, jumped to $37.35 billion in 2017 from 33.61 billion in 2016,” he noted.

The LCCI president lamented the involvement of many entities, including the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, banks, tax facilitation centres, Federal Board of Revenue, Excise and Taxation Department, Punjab Employees Social Security Institution and Labor Department of Punjab, to “facilitate” a startup, whereas in New Zealand, the same is handled through only a single office (Companies Office).

The LCCI president said that international indexes are very important for any economy as they encourage or discourage the international community with regard to establishing trade and investment relations. Therefore, he added, it is imperative that Pakistan improves its economic rankings.

Giving details, Almas Hyder said that Pakistan was at 142nd position in the starting business index, 141st in dealing with construction permits, 167th in getting electricity, 170th in registering property, 105th in getting credit, 172nd in paying taxes, 171st in trading across borders, 156th in enforcing contracts and at 82nd in resolving insolvency.

“A company office should be formed in Pakistan for the incorporation of new companies. Regulations should start once the company gets operational. The companies should be given the facility of getting all the required registrations (federal and provincial), trade insurance, industrial and business permits through the proposed company office,” he suggested.

The LCCI president hoped that the country would witness a positive economic change once these suggestions are adopted and implemented by the government. Almas Hyder further stated that the chamber would highlight all impediments to ease of doing business through media.