- World Bank report places country on 136TH place based on performance
- Sindh province to launch online portal to facilitate investors
Sindh province is in the process of finalizing an online registration portal as a one-stop window for investors looking to set up shop in the country, a step that could further improve Pakistan’s ranking in the ease of doing business category, as reported by the World Bank on Wednesday.
According to the financial body’s Doing Business 2019 report, Pakistan’s ranking on the global ease of doing business improved by 11 notches, moving it to the 136th place, following the introduction of three reform measures during the past year to help create jobs, attract investment and make the economy more competitive.
“The system would be available within next six months which would further improve the country’s regulatory environment and global ranking,” Naheed Memon, Chairperson of Sindh Board of Investment, told Arab News on Thursday.
“We are in the process of procuring the hardware for the facilitation centers that would be set up in different departments so that investors should get all the required facilities from a single point,” she added.
On the measures of absolute progress towards best practices, Pakistan improved its score to 55.31, from 52.78 last year. “The reforms of the past year covered the Doing Business areas of Starting a Business, Registering Property and Resolving Insolvency.”
In Pakistan, doing business is still considered a daunting task due to several departmental and bureaucratic hurdles. “It takes a business in Pakistan 161 days to obtain an electricity connection, compared to the South Asia regional average of 98 days and the cost is 50 per cent more than elsewhere in the region,” the World Bank said in its statement.
However, Sindh’s plan to introduce an online one window operation is expected to benefit small and medium businesses to a large extent once the system starts functioning. “The investors will not need to visit each and every department they will be able to get themselves registered from home or while sitting in their offices,” Memon said.
She added that the government was taking steps to simplify the taxation system for investors by rationalizing and streamlining the procedure. “Instead of multiple tax collection venues there will be only one hassle-free submission and investors would not run from post of pillar,” she noted.
Property or commercial dispute resolution is another area that restrains businesses in Pakistan which lacks mechanism and causes huge losses due to unprecedented delays. “We are encouraging t5he creation of separate benches in the courts for speedy processing of commercial or business disputes. This task is undertaken by the World Bank [in consultation] with the concerned authorities,” Memon noted.
However, the country’s businessmen called for further steps to reduce the cost and time for setting up new businesses. “We are calling for steps to ensure transparency for existing and new businesses because doing business in Pakistan is still not easy due to lengthy and cumbersome procedures,” Junaid Esmail Makda, President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry KCCI, told Arab News.
“I believe it is entirely possible for the country to transform the regulatory environment and create a more competitive business environment. However, this improvement needs to be sustained and accelerated,” Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, added.
The World Bank report also found that Pakistan made Resolving Insolvency easier by enabling the continuation of the debtor’s business during insolvency proceedings. As a result, the country significantly improved its global ranking in this area to 53, from 82 last year.
Pakistan performs best in the area of Protecting Minority Investors, earning 9 out 10 points in the extent of ownership and control index, which measures governance in terms of safeguarding and protecting shareholders from undue board control and entrenchment. Globally, Pakistan ranks 26 on this measure.