ISLAMABAD    -   The Board of Investment (BOI) in record time of one year approved 11 special economic zones (SEZs) and improved Pakistan’s global ease of doing business raking. “Pakistan’s ranking in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index has improved from 147th in 2018 to 136 in 2019 and expected to further improve several places in the next report,” stated one year performance report of PTI government shared by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan. 

Pakistan’s ranking in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index had consistently fallen from 60th position in 2006 to 147 in 2018, the report added.

Ever since its inception, the BOI had approved only seven SEZs and held only seven Board meetings since 2001 and three meetings of its Board of Approvals (for approval of SEZs).

The report revealed that the BOI under this government, in the last one year, had held the 8th BOI Board Meeting on July 12, 2019 headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Board, it mentioned, had also held the 4th Meeting of the Board of Approvals, headed by the prime minister, which granted approval to the first China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) SEZ at Rashakai, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa(KP). In the same meeting, firm approval of five SEZs in Punjab, processed by BOI, was given along with the approval in principle of two SEZs in Balochistan, two SEZs in Punjab and one SEZ in Sindh, which would be notified after completing codal formalities, it added.

However, several key reforms initiated under Ease of Doing Business, to improve business environment in the country were “starting a Business- Company can now be registered in one day, Construction Permits- Time reduced from 260 to 92 days in Karachi, from 266 to 70 days in Lahore.”

Moreover, the time for getting electricity had reduced from 185 to 120 days in Karachi, from 117 to 95 days in Lahore. For the first time a mobile App had also been developed for load and cost calculation and billing details. 

In order make the property registration process convenient the processing time was being reduced from 208 to 17 days in Karachi, from 26 to 11 days in Lahore. An online taxes paying system had been introduced for online payments of Taxes, Social security and Pension Contributions. A well-knitted system for trading across borders-Web Based One Customs (WeBOC) platform was integrated with key departments which had considerably reduced time.

The BOI had also started contract enforcement and established out of court settlement systems in Lahore and introduced court automation and case management systems.

It had also started Pakistan Regulatory Modernisation Initiative to map all regulatory requirements, permits, licenses and permissions/NOCs required at all levels of Government in setting up and running a business in various key sectors, so as to conduct the business process review and introduce requisite reforms to facilitate business enterprises.

Furthermore, a 24-hour helpline was also set up to respond to the queries of investors and to extend maximum facilitation to them round the clock.

The BOI had also organised seminars and conferences to highlight the economic and investment potential of Pakistan. The key activities undertaken in this regard were Pakistan-Saudi Investment Conference -18th February 2019, Investment Seminars in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo -25th February to 04th March, 2019, Pakistan-Qatar Investment Forum- 10th March 2019, Pakistan- Malaysia Investment Roundtable- 22nd March, 2019, MEDEF International Business Delegation to Pakistan- 08th-11th April, 2019, USPAK Business Council Delegation to Pakistan- 16th-17th July, 2019.

The BOI website was also redesigned to have better access to information and other facilities and also prepared new publications, highlighting the priority sectors of the government, for potential investors. With the developing modern trends BOI had established E-Services for the investors for Work Visa and establishment of branch or liaison offices by providing the services 24 hours throughout the year from around the world.