Pak­istan makes im­por­tant progress: World Bank

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Pak­istan made some im­por­tant progress to­wards the ease of do­ing busi­ness for small and medium-sized en­ter­prises, said the World Bank, com­ing among the top 10 economies for an im­prove­ment in the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment.

“Pak­istan an­nounced a three-year road map to im­prove its global rank­ing on do­ing busi­ness ear­lier this year,” said the World Bank af­ter the re­lease of its lat­est edi­tion of Do­ing Busi­ness 2017: Equal Op­por­tu­nity for All. “Con­sis­tent with that, the coun­try com­pleted three re­forms in the past year in reg­is­ter­ing prop­erty, get­ting credit and trad­ing across bor­ders – the high­est num­ber in a sin­gle year over the past decade.”

Pak­istan’s po­si­tion in the do­ing busi­ness global rank­ings im­proved to 144 out of 190 economies this year as against 148 in 2016. “These im­prove­ments pro­vide im­por­tant build­ing blocks for a more ef­fi­cient busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment that would en­cour­age lo­cal en­trepreneurs in the coun­try,” a state­ment quoted Il­lango Patchamuthu, World Bank Coun­try Direc­tor for Pak­istan, as say­ing. “At the same time, Pak­istan needs to ac­cel­er­ate re­forms to­wards bet­ter reg­u­la­tory prac­tices for a more con­ducive busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment for higher growth and job cre­ation.” The Wash­ing­ton-based lender said in Lahore trans­fer­ring prop­erty was made eas­ier by im­prov­ing the qual­ity of land ad­min­is­tra­tion through digi­tis­ing own­er­ship and land records, “mak­ing land ad­min­is­tra­tion more re­li­able than be­fore.” “Cross-bor­der trade was eased by up­dat­ing elec­tronic cus­toms plat­forms in Lahore and Karachi. It now takes less time for an ex­porter to com­ply with bor­der reg­u­la­tions,” it said. “Pak­istan im­proved ac­cess to credit in­for­ma­tion by legally guar­an­tee­ing bor­row­ers’ rights to in­spect their own data.”

The World Bank said the credit bureau also more than dou­bled its bor­rower cov­er­age, “thereby in­creas­ing the amount of cred­i­tor in­for­ma­tion and pro­vid­ing more fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion to prospec­tive lenders.”

“Pak­istan now ranks sec­ond in the South Asia re­gion in the area of get­ting credit,” it added. The bank, in the 14th an­nual edi­tion of its flag­ship re­port, said lo­cal en­trepreneurs still face dif­fi­cul­ties in sev­eral ar­eas, such as en­forc­ing con­tracts and get­ting elec­tric­ity.

It takes al­most three years to set­tle a com­mer­cial dis­pute com­pared to the global av­er­age of 637 days.

The re­port com­pares busi­ness reg­u­la­tions that en­hance busi­ness ac­tiv­ity and those that con­straint it in 190 economies. The bank as­sessed 11 in­di­ca­tors – start­ing a busi­ness, deal­ing with con­struc­tion per­mits, get­ting elec­tric­ity, reg­is­ter­ing prop­erty, get­ting credit, pro­tect­ing mi­nor­ity in­vestors, pay­ing taxes, trad­ing across bor­ders, en­forc­ing con­tracts, re­solv­ing in­sol­vency and labour mar­ket reg­u­la­tion – to rank an econ­omy. This year’s re­port in­cludes, for the first time, a gen­der di­men­sion in three in­di­ca­tors: start­ing a busi­ness, reg­is­ter­ing prop­erty and en­forc­ing con­tracts.

“The coun­try needs to pay sig­nif­i­cant at­ten­tion to gen­der as­pects, go­ing for­ward,” the bank said. The pay­ing taxes indi­ca­tor set has been ex­panded as well to in­clude mea­sures of post-fil­ing pro­cesses re­lat­ing to tax au­dits and tax re­fund.

The bank said tax au­dit com­pli­ance in Pak­istan takes 29 hours, which is con­sid­er­ably less than the re­gional av­er­age of 48 hours, but higher than the global av­er­age of 17 hours.

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