A cabinet member in the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government raised questions over empowering the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) for conducting transactions.

Sources told The Express Tribune that during discussions in a cabinet meeting, chaired by former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, a member while endorsing the spirit of legislation, observed that there was some confusion in the concept.

It was pointed out that if SIFC was empowered to enter into transactions, it would make it a commercial entity.

It was asked how it could issue directives to government ministries/ departments, especially regulators, which enjoyed independent status.

It was clarified that SIFC was not a commercial entity as line ministries would be the signatories of all agreements.

Read PM terms SIFC a ray of hope for Pakistan

SIFC would work with the ministries/ departments to remove bottlenecks and fast-track the potential foreign direct investment (FDI).

It was further informed that the “whole-of-government” approach was imperative to give confidence and comfort to foreign investors.

Its objective was to remove hurdles in processes, address regulatory complexities and the lack of investor confidence.

Addressing these challenges required comprehensive reforms aimed at simplifying regulations, improving transparency, enhancing coordination between the centre and provinces, and promoting a business-friendly environment.

The government has devised a plan to attract investment and facilitate investors as part of the economic revival plan.

As per the plan, the former prime minister approved the establishment of SIFC, which would facilitate investment and privatisation in areas including, but not limited to, defence production, agriculture, minerals, information technology and telecommunication, and energy.

It will take all necessary measures in order to streamline investment, privatisation and business opportunities.

Read more Kakar sees SIFC as engine of prosperity

In order to pave the way for smooth work and provide legal protection to SIFC, its apex committee approved amendments to the Board of Investment Ordinance 2001, which had been vetted by the Law Division.

However, due to the paucity of time, proposed amendments to the BOI Ordinance 2001 could not be placed before the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC).

The Board of Investment (BOI) proposed amendments to the Board of Investment Ordinance 2001 by adding Chapter II-A with regard to SIFC’s establishment, scope of work, functions, power, immunity, etc.

Approval of the federal cabinet was solicited to amend the BOI Ordinance 2001. The cabinet considered a summary titled “Amendments in the Board of Investment Ordinance 2001” submitted by the Broad of Investment and approved the proposal.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2023.

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