ISLAMABAD  -   Prime Minister Imran Khan said that without coming up with pro-investment and ease of doing business policies, the country could not be pulled out of economic crises and transformed into financially viable country.

Addressing the Pakistan Economic Forum organised by Pakistan Business Council on Thursday, the Prime Minister said that his vision is to make Pakistan a financially viable and economically self-reliant country.

The premier said that wealth creation is necessary to take the country forward. He said a business friendly culture will be introduced in the country and businessmen will be encouraged to invest their capital in various sectors.

Being a resource-rich country, Pakistan had great potential for investment but the tax regime in vogue as well as prevailing mindset to discourage the wealth creation were major impediments to economic uplift of the country, he said.

He said his government had decided to establish exclusive offices to handle the issues relating to ease of doing business and poverty alleviations at PM Office and committed for a frequent interaction with the business community to know the impact of the government policies.

The prime minister viewed that the geo-strategic position, China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), over 120 million young population of around 35 years age and government’s commitment to eliminate corruption were the factors to attract the investors to the country.

He told the audience that the government was going tough on money laundering besides encouraging the Overseas Pakistanis to send their remittances through banking channels.

He said China succeeded to steer around 700 million people out of poverty just by allowing the wealth creation. Even during his interactions, he also learned the policies of wealth creation and ease of doing business from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Sheikh Mohammed of UAE as reasons behind the economic revival of the two countries.

He said no country could progress if it presents its industrialists as criminals, adding: “making money is no sin but using unfair means to make it or avoiding tax is.”

Imran Khan said: “focus is being made to improve competitiveness of our products to grab major share of exports in world markets.” He said that the government has introduced policies to facilitate export industry. The Prime Minister said money laundering and smuggling harm the country hard and steps are being taken to discourage these practices.

He said the tax policy and collection have been separated in order to create a favourable environment for businesses. He said Pakistan is an attractive destination for investment and in recent months many foreign firms have expressed keen interest to invest in various sectors of Pakistan.

Separately, chairing a meeting, Imran Khan directed removing all hiccups in the ways of local and foreign investors and directed Chairman Board of Investment to come up with a comprehensive plan that how the ease of doing business procedure could be further streamlined to the benefit of investors. The Prime Minister decided that he would himself chair a review meeting every month on ease of doing business in the country.

The Prime Minister chaired a high-level meeting to review progress on improving ease of doing business and creating an enabling environment to facilitate conversion of interest of the local as well as foreign investors into actual investments in the country.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Asad Umar, Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem, Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood, Chairman BoI Haroon Sharif, Federal Secretaries and senior officials. Chairman BoI Haroon Sharif while briefing the Prime Minister about the steps taken so far said that the Board would be serving as an agent of change for facilitating business transactions, removing impediments in the way to materialisation of investors’ interest into actual investments and smooth functioning of the businesses in the country.

He also briefed the premier about various issues being faced by business community including taxation, access to finance, regulation and policy issues and ‘red-tapism’.

The chairman said that BOI was also actively working with provinces and relevant ministries for removing barriers in the way of establishing special economic zones. He said that special efforts were being made to bridge the gap between private and public sector and to reach out to the private sector to revive their confidence in government policies and put in place a framework that facilitates business community in its business pursuits.

Chairman BoI also briefed the Prime Minister about Naya Pakistan Diaspora Fund which is being set up to promote SMEs and rural development in key areas of education, health and infrastructure development. He also apprised the Prime Minister of the investment framework which has been structured for attracting and materializing investment from UAE, KSA, China, Japan and Malaysia.  

The Prime Minister directed Chairman BoI to present a comprehensive plan, listing all issues in various sectors and their sub-sectors and how the processes could be streamlined to simplify procedures related to government approvals, addressing taxation issues, dispute resolution and facilitating investors and businesses.