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Chinese firms to invest $15b in petrochemicals sector

BoI secretary says enabling business environment plays pivotal role in attracting domestic and foreign investment

Federal Secretary Board of Investment (BoI) Fareena Mazhar on Sunday said Chinese companies were ready to invest the $15 billion in Pakistan's petrochemicals sector, a venture which also includes the project of constructing an energy pipeline from Gwadar to China.

The federal secretary told the APP that Chinese companies would invest in the petrochemical sector in Gwadar and said that bilateral talks were also underway about the Chinese investment in various projects in the country.

Mazhar expressed hope that in the future, Chinese companies would also bring investment in other fields such as energy, agriculture and tourism, saying the government wanted to promote the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) culture in the country for bringing foreign investment and to create employment opportunities in the country.

The government was introducing new SMEs policy as part of its regulatory reforms meant to improve business regulations in the country, she added.

Mazhar informed that the '7th Reform Action Plan' was mainly focusing on improvements in firm entry regulations, reliability of electricity, tax regulations, trade regulations, creditors' rights, better property rights, and court efficiency. She said that reforms in these areas play a major role in the process of economic development.

The BoI was working hard to attract foreign investment in the country and make it easy for them to do business, she said and informed that over 50 reforms were under consideration to create a conducive environment for business and enhance industrialization in the country.

The secretary said Pakistan Regulatory Modernization Initiatives (PRMI) was a key initiative of the government for the modernization and regulation of local business, adding that the implementation of these reforms was part of the broader strategy of the government aimed at improving productivity and enhancing exports to achieve the objective of sustainable economic growth in the country.

Read More: Chinese fishing vessels seek shelter at Gwadar Port during monsoon season

The secretary said the main objective of the PRMI reforms strategy was to improve the entry and operational environment for business, focusing on the simplification and automation of the regulatory framework at all three government levels including federal, provincial and district levels.

“The vital success indicator of the initiative would be increased in the overall private sector and foreign direct investment level without compromising the effectiveness of the various regulatory regimes, she said. Enabling a business environment played a pivotal role in attracting domestic and foreign investment, she added.

In response to a question, she said the World Bank's coming, Ease of Doing Business (EODB) report 2021-22 to be issued in December this year, was expected to further improve Pakistan's ranking below 100.

"Improving Pakistan's 'Ease of Doing Business Ranking' will boost foreign investment in the country", she said.

The secretary said higher rankings in the World Bank EODB index indicated better regulations for businesses and stronger protections of their rights.

An environment where new entrants with drive and innovative ideas could get started in business, she said adding, areas, where productive firms could invest, expand, and create new jobs, was our prime focus.

The secretary said EODB ranking was instrumental to improve the size of the formal sector, to curb corruption through transparency and accountability, adding that improvements in EODB ranking would help reduce time, cost and processes involved in starting and operating a business.

Fareena said it was very encouraging to see that during the last two years, Pakistan advanced from 39 places to 108th place on the ease of doing the business global ranking.

The company's registration has shown a 63 per cent growth and 99 per cent of these registrations were done online while 45 per cent of applicants were issued registration certificates on the same day, she said.

She said for every DB cycle, an action plan containing more than 50 reforms actions across all 10 indicators was prepared in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

In the last two years, "we have improved the World Bank's EODB ranking by 39 points in ease of doing business, which is very beneficial for attracting foreign investment and growth of the local industrial sector", she said.

The secretary BoI said the board was working hard on business reforms that would increase industrial competitiveness in the country and improve the climate for foreign investment in the country


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