Razak Dawood expects Pakistan’s EODB ranking to improve by 20 positions

Adviser says Pakistan's position likely to improve from 108 to 88 in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index

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ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said on Friday the government was striving hard to ensure the country’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) ranking among the top 100 counties by providing a conducive business environment to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“We are expecting an improvement of around 20 positions this year, 108 to 88, in the overall score of the World Bank’s EODB World Annual Index Report,” Dawood told APP.

The adviser informed that Pakistan had witnessed an unprecedented improvement in its EODB ranking last year and “we want to continue the momentum and build on our previous successes.”

He said Pakistan had improved its position from 136 to 108 in EODB rank last year, which shows the government’s commitment to improving the business environment.

To a question, he said this year the government was focusing on all 10 indicators measured for the World Bank Index annual report.

“In this context, 74 reform actions related to these business indicators have been completed and being taken up with the DB team for their consideration.”

Talking on these reforms, Dawood said the company registration with all provincial authorities has become easy and online, without involving human handling.

He claimed that any company could now be registered in a day with the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Replying to another question about EODB process with the provincial governments, the adviser said the data is transferred to the labour depts, the Punjab Employees Social Security Institute (PESSI), the Sindh Employees Social Security Institute (SESSI) and Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institute (EOBI) in real-time, while only SECP portal is used.

“End-to-end integration of nine departments has been made and waiving off fee by the labour department of Sindh will also reduce the cost for businesses to be operated in Sindh as well,” he said.

He said Punjab had already waived off labour fee last year and similarly omission of provisions regarding company’s common seal will lead to a reduction in one procedure and associated time.

“The SECP has notified the rules for Corporate Rehabilitation Act 2018. Now companies can get full benefits of resolution of insolvency.”

He said the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) amended their by-laws to facilitate the applicants and had outsourced the inspections regime for the first time in Punjab.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has revised the Consumer Service Manual for ease of getting commercial connections and turn-around time for new connections has been reduced from 106 to 58 days, Dawood said.

He further said the Punjab government has also amended the CPC Act to curtail adjournments and to comply time standards. Apart from these initiatives, the governments of Punjab and Sindh have also started ADR mechanism to promote out of the court settlement, he added.

“The Financial Institution (Secured Transactions) Act 2016 has been amended through an ordinance and under the law, an E-Registry has been established and businesses can keep their moveable property as collateral for getting credit.”

Replying to a question, he said the FBR has simplified and fully automated the procedure for Sales Tax Registration and now Sales Tax Registration Number (STRN) could be obtained within minutes.

He said that EOBI, PESSI and SESSI have made the payment of pension contributions online.

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has removed the requirement of obtaining a Price Certificate for exports of cotton yarn, the adviser said.

Replying to another question on the government introduced strategy for EODB, to facilitate small business at local levels, he said that in addition to EODB initiative, the government is also working on two other initiatives to facilitate small businesses at local level.

He said under the Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative (PRMI), the Board of Investment (BOI) has initiated mapping through federal ministries, divisions, organisations of various processes involved in granting of licenses, NOCs, permissions, and approvals through a mapping exercise.

Dawood said after mapping, redundant rules/regulations will be removed and remaining will be rationalized.

“This regulatory cleaning will reduce the roadblocks for businesses and facilitate them to materialize their projects and plans.”

The Advisor said besides the government has also established a project management unit at the Board of Investment (BOI) for facilitating companies and SMEs interested to park their industries at various SEZs established under SEZs as well as under CPEC industrial cooperation.

“Additionally, the BOI facilitation wing is mandated to facilitate local and foreign investors for resolution of various issues during entry, stay and even during the exit process.”

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