Govt establishing online One Stop Shop for businesses: BOI chairman – The Nation

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ISLAMABAD   –   The government is establishing an online One Stop Shop by the name of ‘Pakistan Business Portal’ that would enable businesses to find regulatory requirements, in respect of different sectors, submit their applications electronically and also pay the fees/charges online to obtain required licenses/permits.
Chairman Board of Investment Azfar Ahsan said this in a meeting with delegation of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OICCI) led by Ghias Khan, President OICCI. Secretary BOI Ms Fareena Mazhar was also present in the meeting. BOI leadership briefed the delegation in detail about the investment regime of Pakistan and highlighted the various initiatives taken by the Board of investment to facilitate and promote investment in the country. The delegation was informed that in order to reduce the compliance burden on businesses, BOI, on the directions of the Prime Minister of Pakistan has been leading the “Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiative (PRMI)”.
Secretary BOI, while highlighting the opportunities available in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), elaborated that the SEZ law allows creating industrial clusters with liberal incentives, infrastructure, investor facilitation services to enhance productivity and reduce cost of doing business for economic development and poverty reduction. She further pointed that presently 22 Special Economic Zones have been notified. Any investor local or foreign can start a business in already established SEZ as SEZ Enterprise or can develop its own SEZ as SEZ developer anywhere in Pakistan by acquiring a minimum of 50 acres of land.
The Board of Investment organized a meeting of the delegation with the Prime Minister where the delegation apprised the Prime Minister about their working and shared outcomes of a recent survey they conducted to get perspectives from the foreign investor community on the state of economy. The meeting was then followed by a press conference by members of OICCI. It promotes foreign investments, provides policy reform and advocacy, provides networking opportunities, and disseminates information across multiple platforms It also represents member companies to government bodies.
The OICCI delegation shared that most of their companies are reinvesting in Pakistan and this be considered as FDI. The Prime Minister was appreciative of the working of OICCI and shared that he was confident that BOI’s efforts and OICCI’s working will help promote investment in Pakistan and prove useful in further boosting Pakistan’s economy.
OCCI survey
The survey results present an array of insights, shedding light on the increase in confidence of OICCI members on the growth potential of the country and some areas where government attention is required.
OICCI President, Ghias Khan, in a meeting with the media representative, shared the salient features of the survey and highlighted that foreign investors are largely positive on several business climate parameters. OICCI members forecast healthy growth of their respective business entities in Pakistan with an overwhelming 80 percent of respondents willing to recommend new FDI in Pakistan. Ghias Khan added that “the case for business growth potential and opportunities in Pakistan is supported by over 65 percent of survey respondents indicating their plans to make new investments, out of which 8 out of 10 respondents plan to invest more or similar amounts over the next 1 to 5 years, as compared to the investments they made in the previous corresponding period”.
Foreign investors’ sentiments about the investment and operating conditions in Pakistan, in comparison with regional countries have shown notable improvement, compared to the previous survey, as Pakistan has been rated “Better” ahead of India, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Philippines but behind Indonesia, Malaysia, UAE and China. Survey respondents have been positively influenced, amongst other considerations, by measures easing business operations such as improved banking infrastructure, access to local financing avenues, and repatriation of profits. However, concerns have been shown on area of ease of doing business and perception of Pakistan. Secretary General, OICCI, M. Abdul Aleem added that “OICCI members have once again emphasized on the need for predictable, consistent, and transparent policy framework and its fair implementation. Governance issues, including ‘Gap in Policy implementation’ continue to remain an area of serious concern along with increasing tax burden and cost of doing business. These factors not only hinder business environment but also contribute to lower FDI in the future.” The survey also highlighted sector-wise issues which OICCI intends to take up with the concerned stakeholders.
While engagement of the federal government with investors has slightly declined compared to the previous survey, OICCI members have acknowledged that senior functionaries in the federal government have shown understanding and commitment to resolve investors’ issues. Authorities in the provincial government of Sindh have shown improvement versus previous engagement levels. However, respondents have also mentioned that at times, policies and regulations tend to be inconsistent and abruptly introduced with ineffective enforcement. The performance of regulatory bodies also reveals a mixed perception and concerns have been expressed over the excessive regulatory environment in certain areas. In conclusion, OICCI Vice President, Amir Paracha commented, “Going forward, we believe the largely positive feedback from foreign investors through PIS 2021 survey need to be leveraged by all the key stakeholders, especially those in the federal and provincial government, and institutions like BOI, FBR, and other regulatory bodies.”

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