Govt working hard to improve ease of doing business: Hafeez Shaikh

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Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh Thursday said the government was working hard to improve ease of doing business in the country by providing maximum facilities to the local as well as international investors.“We are working hard on ease of doing business and the numbers of businesses are gradually improving,” he said this while addressing the First Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Capital Market Regulators Forum here.

He invited the investors to take benefit of the opportunities offered by the government, saying, they would feel comfortable while doing business in benefiting from the tremendous opportunities in sector of economy.Capital market regulators from members of the CAREC met for the first time here to discuss ways on how to improve capital markets by enhancing access to finance, supporting private sector development, spurring economic activities, and strengthening regional cooperation and integration.

The two-day forum is jointly organized by the SECP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Central Depository of Pakistan (CDC), and the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited (NCCPL).
The forum attracted high level dignitaries including Adviser on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, SECP Chairman Aamir Khan, ADB Vice-President Shixin Chen, and more than 150 regulators from the CAREC region.

Hafeez Shaikh said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) government believed in transparency and on behalf of the prime minister, he assured the investors that henceforth they would no more face hardships and other issues while doing business.He said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was the flagship project of Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which will help promote connectivity among the regional countries. Through this project the Western China would get the shortest rout to Gwadar Sea Port.
He said after completion of road network, energy and infrastructure facilities under the BRI and CPEC, the country would have such a platform through which inter-regional connectivity would be improved significantly.

On privatisation, he said, “We are also initiating privatisation programme to bring foreign investment as well as to motivate local businessmen to come and undertake the job of running commercial enterprises”.The adviser said Special Economic Zones being built under CPEC would also help increase Foreign Direct Investment in the country. Promoting communication and connectivity, he said was vital for regional development and by improving regulations, the transparency of capital market could be improved. He said capital market was important for financial needs of private sector.

Hafeez said Pakistan had conveyed a message to the world that Pakistan was maintaining financial discipline and after entering the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, a positive image of Pakistan’s economy had built up around the globe.The financial sector in most CAREC countries remains dominated by traditional financial institutions such as banks. Capital markets in the region are also lagging, with some CAREC members ranked low in market capitalization, according to the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report.

Improved capital markets can unlock much-needed resources to boost economic growth and help achieve sustainable development, while strengthening regional cooperation that promotes more effective and efficient cross-border trade and investments.“This forum underscores the need to build strong and meaningful cooperation among our capital markets,” said Mr Chen. “The region needs much more financing and investments than public sector resources can alone provide. Mobilization of private sector funds, including through capital markets and long-term institutional resources, is critical to meeting development financing gaps of the CAREC region.”

Amir Khan noted in his welcome speech that the forum is the first step to develop a strong network of capital market regulators in the CAREC region and a great step towards accelerated development of capital markets among countries in Central Asia.

The forum included panel sessions and open discussions covering country case studies, as well as specific topics such as lessons from capital markets integration, derivative market development, and fintech’s regulatory and regional implications. Representatives from ministries of finance, central banks, capital market supervisory bodies from all CAREC countries, and relevant industry professionals participated as panelists in the various sessions to share and discuss best international practices with the participants.

The CAREC Programme is a partnership of 11 countries; Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to promote economic growth and development through regional cooperation.