Prime Minister has reportedly noted that the Board of Investment (BoI) has failed to facilitate international investment in Pakistan which has been showing a downward trend since Pakistan Muslim League (N) came into power.
BoI was originally created to provide for one-window operations to facilitate international investment in Pakistan; however, it has failed to deliver with some isolated exceptions in the last more than two decades of its existence.
In response to Prime Minister”s observations, BoI administration has requested the same pay and allowances as the staff of the PM”s Office and BISP to strengthen BoI”s human resource capital.
The Board admits that it is in no position to defend the Prime Minister”s observations and acknowledges that a one-window facilitation for all foreign investors could not be extended by BoI barring a few cases in spite of a very well thought out strategy, announced in 2013 for a five-year period with ”one window” or ”one stop shop” as a pivotal component.
It further admits that the operational windows are interdependent to a large extent and the strategy could not be operationalized in toto due to frequent changes of management; resistance to change both internal and external; lack of ownership and lack of an implementation/ action plan.
The Board clarified that there had been 6 change of secretaries in 2013, service and financial rules could not be implemented and meetings of BoI board were rare and far between.
The BoI management further maintained, “Investors” facilitation set-up is also in place though it has not graduated to an ideal one-window set-up primarily due to lack of networking arrangements”.
The Special Economic Zones Act has been rehashed and subsequently seven SEZs have been approved though a full fledged SEZ secretariat is yet to be established.
The Prime Minister further observed that after the establishment of BoI at the federal government level, the provincial governments have also established similar institutions with a similar mandate.
It is, therefore, not wise to continue to run parallel organisations in the provincial headquarters with no mandate to facilitate the provincial government.
The Prime Minister therefore desired that the Board re-examine the utility of retaining its regional offices.
It further observes, “BoI may also look on current deficiency in its federal set-up and provide for a comprehensive reform solution with a view to making the organisation fully functional and vibrant”.
Investment as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose to 15.2 percent (July-March) in 2015-16 according to the Economic Survey 2015-16 which compares unfavourably with 17.1 percent during the last full year in the tenure of the PPP-led coalition government in 2011-12. -Business Recorder