LAHORE - Punjab Board of Investment and Trade is not only attracting the foreign investment but also protecting and facilitating those foreign companies, which are already working in the province but facing hardships in its expansion plan.

The recent example is Coca Cola Company, which was planning to shift its business to some other regional countries due to a number of tax issues with Punjab Revenue Authority and Punjab Food Authority. But the PBIT approached the both authorities and settled all problems faced by the foreign company, convincing it to continue operation. The Board of Investment has also evolved a plan to set up one window cell in the province to facilitate the foreign investors. Under the one window plan, the PBIT will itself approach all provincial agencies and departments including LDA, Agriculture Department, Livestock Department, C & W, Women Rights, Labour Department, provincial Industries Department and Energy Department for necessary proceedings and formal documentation. The investors will not have to experience difficulties in contacting a large number of government departments rather one window facility will help them obtain all licenses. PBIT newly-appointed CEO Ilyas Ghauri observed that the Board is responsible for promoting and facilitating local businesses as well as the international businesses in Pakistan, especially in Punjab. The purpose of the organization is to provide cost-competitiveness in various emerging sectors, a professional work force and a world class infrastructure. Another major initiative of the PBIT to encourage bilateral trade and investment between China and Pakistan is Punjab China Bureau, which was formed in 2009.

He said that due to pursuance of Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT) business regulations have been profoundly overhauled along liberal lines. Most barriers to the flow of capital and international direct investment have been removed.

Foreign investors do not face any restrictions on the inflow of capital, and investment of up to 100% of equity participation is allowed in most sectors. Unlimited remittance of profits, dividends, service fees or capital is now the rule. Business regulations are now among the most liberal in the region.

He said that PBIT is working for the ready availability of skilled professionals, adequate infrastructure and affordable cost of doing business for the entrepreneurs; making Pakistan a contender for destination of choice for investors. On recommendation of PBIT, the government has adopted and implemented certain policies to incentivize and facilitate the inflow of FDI into the province of Punjab. The Punjab govt has removed hurdles and simplified the outdated and unnecessary procedures, approvals and legislation.

Accepting the greater private sector role in industrial zone development the Punjab govt has implemented proactive, responsive and targeted promotion strategies to provide effective investor facilitation services. For this purpose a centralized databank has been created besides constituting Specialized Economic Zones (SEZ’S).

He stated that a strong public-private sector link is vital for promoting and attracting investment. Over the past few years the government has worked on developing a strong and effective working relation with the private sector. There is now an effective unity and consistency between the two sectors for implementing shared policy objectives. Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT) is the trade and investment promotion agency of the Punjab. The Government of Punjab, conscious of the importance of investment from the private sector in the development of the provincial economy, established PBIT in 2009.

Since its inception, PBIT has been striving towards achieving the vision of a prosperous Punjab. The organization has established its focus around three key objectives: facilitating new and existing businesses; creating a mutually beneficial business environment through proactive policy advocacy both at the provincial and federal level and, promoting Punjab as the ultimate investment destination. The combination of public officials and private sector experts who work at PBIT helps bridge the gap between private corporations and the government.  “We provide investors and businesses with a one-window facility and reduce their time to market their products. In its endeavor to put Punjab on the world map, Punjab Board of Investment & Trade has been conducting, and participating in global and local trade and investment events.

He said that Punjab is the heart of Pakistan, home to more than half of its population and contributing to over 50% of Pakistan’s GDP growth: Punjab is indeed Pakistan’s economic engine.

PBIT has been involved in promoting opportunities across the entire economic spectrum with its primary focus on sectors such as Energy, Agriculture, Livestock, Garments, Textiles, Housing and Infrastructure Development. PBIT played an instrumental role in securing Shandong Ruyi Group’s investment in Pakistan. CP Thailand, is another example, which on perusal of the PBIT, has announced to make initial investment of $50 million in poultry sector.  The Investment Board has convinced a German company to install a 50MW solar plant at Qauid-e-Azam Solar Park on same terms and conditions finalized with the Chinese companies. Ilyas Ghauri said that foreign investors and diplomats are intact with the Punjab govt through PBIT and showing keen interest to bring new investment despite continuous political tension.

Just in a couple of months different foreign diplomats have visited the PBIT and discussed the possible ways to enhance business and trade between the two countries. Mr. Emil Wyss, Consul General of Switzerland along with Mr Jordan James Din, Head of Commercial Section visited Punjab Board of Investment on September 17, 2014 and informed that Consulate General of Switzerland in Karachi is planning to have a Trade Show at the Karachi Airport where Swiss and Pakistani Businesses will be participating. Likewise, Mr Uday Sequeira, First Secretary Political, Canadian High Commission, Islamabad visited the office of Punjab Board of Investment and Trade on September, 16 2014 to get briefing of Pak-India Trade relations.

Mr. Zachary V Harkenrider, the newly appointed consul General, visited Punjab Board of Investment on August 21, 2014 to briefed about the technical support provided by PBIT to the local and foreign investors.