Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production Abdul Razzak Dawood said on Wednesday that the government was working rigorously on improving ‘ease of doing business’ in Pakistan in order to place the country among the top 50 economies in the next five years.
“Pakistan is currently ranked 136th in the ease of doing business index and the government aims to bring it down within the top 100 in two years and among top 50 countries in the next five years,” the advisor said while addressing a press conference along with Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif.
He said that ease of doing business was a major indicator to attract foreign direct investment and to revive the industrial sector.
“When the government had assumed the office, Pakistan was ranked at 147th. Owing to the government’s short-term measures, the ranking has improved by 11 positions,” the advisor asserted. “Besides ease of doing business in the country, the government is working on simplifying the taxation system as well as the visa regime.
We are also formulating a strategy to link all investment hubs of the country under a one window facility.”
Speaking on the occasion, BOI Chairman Haroon Sharif said South Asia was among the fastest growing economies of the world and was an attractive destination for investments, adding that enhancement in foreign investment was among the top priorities of the government.
He said that BOI, in close coordination with the provincial governments, was working towards simplifying the taxation system, as about 47 types of manual payments were involved in starting a business.
“One window facility was started by taking Federal Board of Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and provincial governments on board,” he added.
Sharif said the business facilitation system was streamlined and procedures were brought down to 16 from 47 by making all payments online, adding that the Pakistan embassies abroad were also asked to establish a special visa desk to facilitate the investors.
The BOI chief said that the government was working to improve cross border trade with China, Afghanistan and India in order to capitalise the trade opportunities in the region.
In order to address the export credit issues, he said the government had evolved a mechanism to pay back the returns, adding that one-third of the refunds would be paid in cash, whereas for the remaining amount, the government would launch promissory bonds.
As for foreign investment, he said dedicated business units would be established in each province to facilitate businessmen, besides making easy access to credit.
He said that visa regime would also be improved for the businessmen and visa would be issued within 24 hours. “Online visa facility with four countries has already been started and would be extended to 60 other countries in the next phase. Restricted movements have also been abolished.”
The BOI head said that prime minister’s visits abroad had brought about a positive impact, as perceptions of the foreign investors about Pakistan have changed. “Investors from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia, and China have shown a keen interest to invest in different sectors of Pakistan’s economy,” he concluded.