PAKISTAN emerged as one of the biggest improvers in World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business Index 2020, jumping up 28 places on the index and clinching the 108th position, as compared to 136th spot last year. Pakistan was also among the most notable improvement in Doing Business 2020, sitting alongside Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Kuwait, China, India and Nigeria.
This is, indeed, a heart-warming development in the otherwise gloomy economic environment and sends positive signals to the prospective investors. The improvement in ranking is due to the hard work done by the economic team of the Government and complementary measures taken by the governments of Punjab and Sindh, as highlighted in the World Bank report also. Prime Minister Imran Khan has a point in expressing joy over the achievement vowing that the country, by the end of 2020, would become one of the top destinations for investment. One hopes the Government would remain focused on streamlining procedures, offering incentives and removing bottlenecks in the way of establishment and running of businesses. The reforms that helped the country improve its ranking are, of course, important. Pakistan has made starting a business easier by expanding the functionalities of the online one-stop-shop. This reduced the number of procedures required to set up a business from 10 to five and improved the economy’s score for starting a business. No doubt, Pakistan has improved significantly, which is a source of inspiration, but the fact remains that the country was still at number 108 meaning thereby that we will have to work still hard to realize the dream of one of the most attractive places for investment. In fact, the country was moving towards that end in the past due to a multitude of steps taken by some previous governments but these could not be sustained and political instability and uncertainties made the situation worse. The desired progress requires elimination of corruption from ministries and departments dealing with approvals and licensing as well as provision of necessary infrastructure and facilities to investors. Cost of input and higher interest rates are also impeding investment and the Government should review this aspect as well. Investment is a key to industrialization and Pakistan can address its economic woes by attracting investment in different sectors of economy by taking required measures and projecting them in right perspective.