ISLAMABAD: The Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF), a joint initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan established to reposition Pakistan’s economy on a more global competitive footing. The Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2007-2008, which is published each year by the World Economic Forum, benchmarking 131 economies over the 12 economic pillars shows that Pakistan is declining in its rankings, losing its competitive advantage for doing business in Pakistan. The GCR especially highlights Pakistan’s weaknesses related to institutional effectiveness and the efficiency of legal framework.
As part of CSF objectives to enhance the competitiveness of Pakistan’s economy, CSF has identified crucial areas in the licensing process and procedures to improve the business environment and encourage investment in the media industry in Pakistan. CSF has reviewed the current licensing procedure of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to improve the business environment to attract investment in the media sector. CSF, as a result recommended crucial steps to be taken by PEMRA to simplify the application procedure and reducing the number of days for doing business and obtaining licenses.
Based on a careful analysis and on the need and requirements of the stakeholders, CSF proposed new guidelines for provision of documents with a license application, reducing the current requirement of 23 different documents to only 7. The reduction of steps and documents will also reduce the pre-qualification time-frame from 30 days in general to 15 days, after which PEMRA will be sending the application to the Ministry of Interior and its line departments for the relevant clearance. CSF has also suggested streamlining of obtaining the necessary clearance procedures, providing a period of maximum 45 days for final clearance from the Ministry of Interior.
Arthur Bayhan, Chief Executive Officer of the Competitiveness Support Fund, stated that “to improve the competitiveness of any economy, including Pakistan, it is essential to build up a coalition between public, private, academia and the media sectors. Changing mindset is crucial for promoting innovation and competitiveness.” Bayhan further said, “It directly effects the social and economic environment in a country”. “We believe that the proposed recommendations by CSF will greatly improve the business environment in Pakistan and will encourage people to invest in the media industry for dividends in long term to provide access to information to the urban as well as the rural population of Pakistan”, said Bayhan.
The World Bank and its International Finance Corporation (IFC) in its annual report of “Doing Business 2008” have also identified that Pakistan has lost its position of 73 in 2007 to 76 in 2008 out of 178 economies. In dealing with licenses, Pakistan ranks 93 as compared to 91 in 2008 and 2007 respectively. The report also identified an average 223 days to get a license in Pakistan, which is quite high as compared to 153 days in most of the emerging market economies.
The Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) has been the World Economic Forum’s flagship publication since 1979 and is widely recognized as the world’s leading cross-country comparator of factors affecting economic competitiveness and growth. The Competitiveness Support Fund as the partner institute of the World Economic Forum is working closely with various stakeholders to improve the state of Pakistan’s competitiveness in Pakistan. Support for CSF is part of the $ 1.5 billion in aid that the US Government is providing to Pakistan over five years to improve economic growth, education, health and governance.-SANA