ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday stressed the need for greater focus towards improving ease of doing business in Sindh, especially the port city of Karachi, since it was the trade and investment center of the country.
Khan said this presiding over a meeting, held to review progress on addressing the challenges faced by investors in starting and sustaining business in the country, at Prime Minister’s Office.
Haroon Sharif, Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) updated the Prime Minister on various indicators related to ease of doing business, an official statement said.
Quoting the decisions made in the meeting, the statement said Prime Minister, given the significance of the issue, would
henceforth regularly sit down with chief ministers and provincial chief secretaries to have the first-hand updates on the status of the same.
The meeting, it said, also decided that dedicated ‘ease of doing business offices’ would be set up at federal and provincial level for removing bottlenecks and facilitating investors in the smooth business operations.
Briefing the meeting about various positive developments with regards to investment facilitation, Sharif informed the meeting that a memorandum of understanding on industrial cooperation had been signed with China last month.
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“An MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to be signed this month whereas Investment Framework MoU with UAE (United Arab Emirates) is likely in February 2019,” the BOI chairman added.
On the issue of number of tax payments, Sharif said the number of payments had been brought down from 47 to 21.
“Efforts were underway to introduce E-payments of social security contributions in Sindh and Punjab,” the chairman said adding that a new system of value-added tax (VAT) refunds would be in place by 31st March, which would significantly reduce time in obtaining VAT refund.
He further said efforts were also being made to improve risk-management system to reduce number of physical audits.
About the ease of starting business, Sharif said integration of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) with provincial portals and Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had been completed in Punjab; however, efforts were being made to expedite launch of portal in Sindh.
On ease in getting electricity, he told the meeting that significant progress had been made to facilitate provision of power and timely information to the businesses.
“Besides availability of required documents on web-site, full online application system was being rolled out and advance notifications were being ensured about change in tariff etc,” the BOI chief added.
The chairman of the Board of Investment also briefed the meeting about steps being taken to facilitate trading across borders and reducing clearance time in imports and exports.
He also identified various issues mostly related to Sindh in the integration of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and EOBI with provincial portal, end-to-end automation of construction permits and availability of complete electronic database of property registry.
The meeting was attended Finance Minister Asad Umar, Advisor to PM on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor to PM Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Iftikhar Durrani, and senior government officials.
(This news/article originally appeared in The News on January 10th, 2019)