Seventh ‘Doing of Business Reform Plan’ yields high returns

Islamabad: The Government of Pakistan has initiated a large-scale business agenda in the form of Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative (PRMI) to reduce the burden of regulatory compliance on businesses.

According to a WealthPK’s report, World Bank Group’s Doing Business Project provides a measure of “Ease of Doing Business” through a set of objective indicators that focus on the impacts of the laws, regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies.

The government has made steady efforts to improve the business ecosystem in Pakistan. Since 2016, almost 300 reforms have been implemented to make the country more business-friendly. Under PRMI, the apex regulators have made historic reforms to streamline bottlenecks for the start-ups.

The major of these reforms have come up with good results which witness to the trust of investors, WealthPK reported.
Resultantly, Pakistan improved 39 positions in Ease of Doing Business (EODB) ranking in the last two years and has been placed at 108th position. Pakistan has been recognized as the top reformer in the region and sixth reformer in the world.

Owing to the ease of doing business, the number of registered companies in Pakistan has reached 1,56,000 from 92,000, registering an increase of 70%.
Companies and start-ups can now get registration in one day with the local administration, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) through an integrated process.

The data is transferred to the Labour Dept, Punjab Employees’ Social Security Institution (PESSI), Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution (SESSI) and Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) in real time by using the SECP portal. The end-to-end integration of nine departments has been achieved.

No objection certificate for construction permits now takes 108 days in Lahore and 134 days in Karachi, while in the federal capital, it takes two months as opposed to over more than 8 months.

The facility of online payment of taxes has been introduced, while tax rates for small companies have been reduced from 25% to 24%, WealthPK reported.
The company registration process has been completely digitalized through a combined process.

Companies and starts-up have gathered investments of Rs56 billion by investing in the stock market during the ongoing calendar year, while 10 initial public offerings (IPOs) have been tabled.

Secure Transaction Registry (STR) has been set up for SMEs and start-ups, while GEM board and Exchange Traded Fund are also onboard for investors in the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).
In a message on Twitter, Secretary Board of Investment (BOI) Fareena Mazhar said, “The 7th Reform Action Plan is mainly focusing on improvements in firm entry regulations, reliability of electricity, tax regulations, trade regulations, creditors’ rights, better property rights, and court efficiency etc, as reforms in these areas play a major role in accelerating economic development”.

The “ease of doing business” culture in Pakistan also plays a vital role in promoting industrial growth, which shows a positive reflection towards exports of the country.
Pakistan is a firm believer in the blessings of globalization and economic integration which are important for eliminating trade barriers. To achieve these objectives, Pakistan has been looking for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with its partner countries.
Pakistan has successfully concluded FTAs with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (DSRSL) and Persekutuan Malaysia.

Negotiations are also underway for FTAs with Thailand and Turkey.
Pakistan is a member of South Asia Free Trade Agreement. In addition to FTAs, it has signed PTAs with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Indonesia. Pakistan has also signed Transit Trade Agreement with Afghanistan, facilitating Afghan imports and exporters through its ports, and Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) with China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, to facilitate transit traffic.