Govt launches ‘secured transactions registry’ to facilitate financial institutions

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ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Thursday formally launched the Secured Transactions Registry (STR) to enable financial institutions file security interests online.

The STR, established under the Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) Act, 2016, for registration of security interests/charges created by entities other than companies on their movable assets, has been operationalised by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

“STR is an electronic register that could be accessed through a dedicated website by 24/7; financial institutions could now file security interests online,” said a press statement issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The registration process is fully automated and the registry is searchable by general public, free of charge, it added.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir, SECP Chairman Aamir Khan, Board of Investment Chairman Atif R Bokhari, Karandaz Pakistan Chairperson Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Karandaz Pakistan CEO Ali Sarfraz, Department Head of International Development (DFID) Pakistan Annable Gerry, Country Director of World Bank in Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu, and SECP Commissioners Shaukat Hussain and Shauzab Ali were also present on the occasion.

Dr Hafeez Shaikh appreciated the support offered by the British government, through DFID and Karandaz, and collaboration between SECP, SBP, BoI and WB for the successful implementation of this reform.

He particularly lauded the commitment demonstrated by SBP and SECP teams for spearheading this initiative, and its completion within a year of its assignment in March last year.

The Adviser, while discussing the importance of this initiative, highlighted that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) played a vital role in the economic development of the country due to their significant contribution in terms of output, exports and employment.

“Particularly, SMEs constitute approximately 90pc of businesses in Pakistan, employ 80pc of the non-agricultural labor force and contribute 40pc in country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP).”

Shaikh noted that despite playing a significant role in economic growth of the country, SMEs access to formal finance is limited to only 6pc of the total financing by the banking sector.

He was optimistic that this initiative would prove to be a game changer by improving the access to finance for the MSMEs, Agri borrowers and rural enterprises.

The commencement of the registry would broaden the scope of assets so that these under-served segments could offer as a security for availing the finance, he said.

On the other hand, this reform would also help banks to expand their lending portfolios while the operationalisation of STR would contribute towards improving Pakistan’s score on ‘getting credit indicator’, and in particular raise its global ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business’ index.

In her address, Annable Gerry lauded the efforts of the financial sector regulators for their thought leadership and progressive role.

Dr Shamshad Akhtar also praised the SECP leadership and assured of Karandaz Pakistan’s continued support for SECP’s technology projects.

The SBP governor and SECP chairman also spoke on the occasion.

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