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A problem for many

Tariq Khalique

Launching a business entity in Pakistan is much easier than opening a bank account for the same. Recently, a friend of mine visited a company registration office to get registered his new company, and surprisingly, his new firm was incorporated with the regulator within an hour, but when he visited a bank branch to open an account for the same, he was handed over a copy of the requirements, which he has to submit with the account form as per the directives of the State Bank of Pakistan.

 

According to the latest World Bank ratings regarding ease of doing business, Pakistan improved its position by 11 notches, but it is still ranked at 136 of the 190 economies.

Even in South Asia, Pakistan is not performing well as far as ease of doing business ranking is concerned, as India is at 77th position; followed by Bhutan (89th), Sri Lanka (100th), Nepal (110th), while Pakistan is far behind than its regional peers.

No doubt, the successive governments in Pakistan have introduced reforms by providing ease in regulations for incorporating a company, which has helped several individuals and groups of people to get registered their entities, but in completing the mandatory requirements, one has to face several problems such as opening a bank account, which also needs massive reforms.

The process of opening a bank account for a company is so cumbersome that a large number of businesses remained inactive, thanks to the complicated banking procedures.

For the first time in early 90s, the then government had identified the inherent weaknesses of the banking system and initiated a comprehensive reform process by ensuring an environment of competition in the industry. It also made efforts to strengthen the governance and supervision of the financial institutions, which helped in bringing improvement in the banking system, but after passage of almost 18 years, this system is still a problem for many.

With the expanding market share of the private sector, Pakistan witnessed significant progress as far as implementation of financial sector reforms are concerned, but this achievement does not mean end to reforms, rather it further makes maintenance of the growth process more challenging.

Now is the time that the government and financial sector regulators come up with some policy to further strengthen the reform process so that the common man can take full advantage of the banking system.

 

Despite making huge profits by banks, the economic condition of the country is deteriorating with the passage of time mainly due to political uncertainty for the last few years in the country.

The economic stability of a country is largely associated with the growth of the banking sector. According to the previous government’s claims, the economic expansion was quite impressive, but the present regime is presenting a bleak picture of the economy.

Pakistan is facing both structural and emerging challenges such as the lack of access to finance, which limits investment and competitiveness. For almost a decade, the country is strangulated in such problems and the successive governments and the present government remained unable to overcome this problem, which is not only eating away the economic growth, but also shying away investment. The situation calls for immediate attention of the policymakers to avoid bankruptcy-like situation.

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