ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Monday announced that Pakistan would sign a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a couple of days for revival of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility.

“We have already shared the legal opinion on State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) with the Fund,” Mr Tarin said, adding IMF was informed that proposed amendments in three or four areas in the SBP Act required constitutional amendments through a two-thirds majority.

“We don’t have the required numbers in parliament,” he said. However, Mr Tarin categorically said a deal had been finalised with the IMF and it would be signed within a couple of days.

The finance ministry officials, however, were unable to explain as to what specific amendment is required to meet the IMF conditions regarding grant of autonomy to the SBP.

Two modules of Pakistan Single Window launched

Mr Tarin, who led Pakistan’s delegation during its negotiations in Washington with the IMF last month, was replying to reporters’ questions at a ceremony held for launch of the Pakistan Single Window’s (PSW) modules.

Earlier, the prime minister’s adviser launched the PSW’s subscription and banking modules that are aimed at enhancing ease of doing business in the country.

The ceremony served to highlight milestone achievements of PSW by introducing a subscription mechanism and a module for integration of banks into its system. The introduction of the two new modules will help transform the trade and industry ecosystem, according to some analysts.

The PSW will bring together 74 departments at one platform and eliminate the need for verification of documents from individual departments. The project is expected to be completed by March.

The PSW’s subscription module lets users subscribe and access its services within minutes and removes multiple obstacles, including unnecessary regulatory requirements, in getting a user ID for customs and other clearances.

The integration of banking module will allow users to conduct their financial transactions in a seamless manner by eliminating SBP-mandated Electronic Import Forms and Electronic Forms for Exports.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tarin said the PSW concept and its framework was an embodiment of the government’s vision of meaningful reforms in all sectors and every aspect of government, thus promoting trade competitiveness with enhanced transparency and efficiency.

He said the past two years had been difficult for global supply chains as international trade and transportation got affected by disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This resulted in a multifold increase in the cost of production and shipping.

“The worst seems to be over and as economies begin to recover globally, we expect business activities to resume and in fact grow at a much faster pace than before,” he said.

He was of the opinion that the government, as well as the business community, have to be ready for taking advantage of the new opportunities.

The PSW would enable business houses and traders to enter new markets and boost their exports, the PM’s adviser said.

“Our government is pursuing the agenda of making Pakistan a hub for regional trade and transit and realising the full potential of Pakistan’s geostrategic and geo-economic location,” he said.

In this regard, he said, a major milestone was achieved when the TIR agreement was made operational and transit consignments were dispatched to Uzbekistan and Turkey. He expressed the hope that PSW would further boost this effort for regional connectivity through an effective use of ICT technologies, ensuring enhanced facilitation for trading across borders.

“I must emphasise that no system can be successful unless it has ownership by its stakeholders and beneficiaries,” he said.

Aftab Haider, the PSW’s chief executive officer, made a presentation about the project’s aims and objectives.

“This project will help reduce the time and cost of doing business in Pakistan and will unlock the country’s potential to become a hub for regional and international trade and transit,” said the USAID’s deputy mission director, David Young.

“By making trade simpler, the Pakistan Single Window will help unlock Pakistan’s economy,” he said.

The PSW enables parties involved in trade and transport to register standard information and documents with a single-entry point and thereby fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.

Previously, traders were required to secure approval from a variety of government offices, duplicating efforts and paperwork, which led to increased costs and delays.

The PSW is an initiative of the federal government.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2021


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