ISLAMABAD   -  Chairman Board of Investment Zubair Gilani, who took over the charge last week, is determined to steer the board towards promoting regional trade, manufacturing economy and export-led growth besides discouraging red-tapism to encourage investment culture in the country.  “The regional trade, especially with neighboring countries, including energy rich Central Asian Republic (CARS) is the priority of the government,” he said in an exclusive interview with APP.

The trade with neighboring countries would help increase the local exports and decrease the trade deficit.

He said that the nine Special economic Zones (SEZs), being established along the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), offer huge opportunity to the foreign and local investors in terms of low cost business facilities including  low cost energy, decade long tax free zones and provision of land on lease.

He said that BOI was committed to ensure facilities for starting new business, property registration and resolving insolvency for ease of doing business, especially for small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Lahore and Karachi.

He said the government has been working to improve all the nine indicators of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ including starting business, paying taxes , getting credit, resolving insolvency, getting construction permits, trading across the borders, property registrations, getting electricity and enforcing contracts to be implemented  for  attracting the foreign investment in the country.

Through integrated approach and the coordination between all the concerned institutions, including Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), a mechanism would be developed for improving ease of doing indicators.

In addition of following World Bank’s (WB) report on ease of doing business, the government at its own was making efforts to implement these indicators in small cities and towns to promote SMEs sector.

Replying to question, Chairman BOI said that the board was fully concentrating to complete all the 9 SEZS timely. He said these SEZs had been established in all four provinces including Rashakai Economic Zone (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Dhabeji (Sindh), Allama Iqbal industrial city Faisalabad (Punjab) and Bostan Indusrial Zone (Balochistan).

He said the Rashakai had a strategic significance as it was closer to Afghanistan and central Asian countries. Relying to another question regarding the SEZs of Hattar and Information Technology Zone in Capital city Islamabad, he said that these two zones were on the priority list of the government and all the issues including the land and electricity had been resolved in this regard.

The BoI was strengthening its capacity to have specific desks and teams to deal with investors from different countries, as well as to work on important assignments, including all SEZs, Zubair said.

He was of the issue that red-tapism was the big issue of the country and has been hindering foreign investments, and expressed commitment for bringing about reforms in the institution to make it at par with international standards.

“The government wanted to go for structural reforms in BOI for modernizing the system through the use of modern technology to enhance it market competitiveness,” adding that the technology had big role in attracting investments. He said that utilization of local fuel was the best choice for decreasing the Current Account Deficit (CAD), suggesting that Thar Coal energy should be utilized for this purpose.

Chairman BOI said that public private partnership in industries would prove to be the best option to grow the local industry and attract the foreign investor for joint ventures.