Board of Investment (BOI) Secretary Asad Rehman Gilani has said that the industry is bound to deal with 70 different types of regulators in the country, which shouldn’t be the case.

Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the BOI secretary pointed out that they had launched Pakistan Regulatory Modernisation Initiative (PRMI) in a bid to modernise the regulatory regime and prevent regulators from becoming rigid.

“One of the ways to do this is to ask all regulators to identify the regulations that have been in their rule books for 75 years and have become obsolete,” he suggested, adding that the applicable regulations should be entered into the BOI registry and the rest be removed.

Gilani emphasised that the laws under which notices were issued to businesses for minor infractions should be relaxed. He declared that excessive notices would be eliminated, regulations would be minimised and new regulations would be finalised after consultation with the business community. Under the PRMI, according to the BOI secretary, regulators will be trained in how to make regulations.

“It has been noticed that there are 20 to 22 regulators in the IT sector alone. We have created a registry, the purpose of which will be to file one application instead of going to different departments,” he said.

BOI will take clearance from all the 22 departments. “So far, 10 regulators have expressed their willingness to cooperate with us. After that, we will move to other sectors like pharmaceutical, steel, etc.” Talking about investment, Gilani said “we have to take care of domestic investment along with foreign investment. Our people established industries by working hard. Now, we have to nurture them.”

To promote investment, Invest Pakistan programme has been launched with support of the British government. “We want the business community to sit with us and help formulate five-year policies,” he stressed.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that Lahore Chamber had always emphasised the need to make rules and regulations simple as well as business-friendly so that business climate is improved and investors are provided all possible facilitation.

“This will definitely help in promoting ease of doing business,” he said, adding that the promotion of foreign and local investment was the need of the hour.

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, the ratio of total investment is 15% of GDP, “which is quite low.” The share of private investment is only 10% of GDP. “It has become inevitable to increase the ratio. We hope that BOI initiatives like Invest Pakistan will be helpful,” said Anwar.

Net foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan was $2.6 billion in 2019-20, which decreased to $1.82 billion in 2020-21 and stood at $1.87 billion in 2021-22, which the LCCI chief termed extremely low in terms of requirement of the economy.

He was of the view that local investment could not go up until the problems of industries were resolved.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2023.

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