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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved ‘One Stop Service’ (OSS) in SEZs model, jointly formulated by the CPEC Authority and Board of Investment (BoI), aimed at facilitating investors.

According to BoI’s communication with other concerned Ministries, one such window for facilitation is envisaged that provides facilitation of time-bound accelerated processing of applications through One-Stop Service (OSS) for all essential services, clearances, licenses, and permits that are required by the SEZ investors to set up their businesses in the SEZs.

The communication says that in the past, many attempts have been made at federal and provincial levels to provide investment facilitation through the creation of such one windows to expedite the provision of public services.

However, none of these attempts could enable the end-to-end provision of services to industrial users, owing to the lack of legal cover and administrative coordination to enable a special regime to override the general provisions in the existing legal statutes.

Special Economic Zones: PM for fully facilitating Chinese cos

Board of Investment, being the premier investment promotion agency and Secretariat for SEZs across Pakistan, as well as, secretariat for industrial cooperation under the framework of CPEC, has ventured into the creation of an all-inclusive facilitation model that could enable end-to-end industrial services to the investors of SEZs.

Consequently, over the span of the last 5 months, in pursuance of PM’s direction to establish a one-window for SEZs, BoI has held consultations with major government departments that an investor has to deal with. This exercise not only involved getting to know their procedures and requirements and the technical expertise involved but also the intent behind their relevant statutes towards the protection of public interest at large.

Accordingly, in view of consultations held with all major stakeholders, including SEZ developers, zone enterprises, and service providing departments over the course of the last 5 months, BoI and CPEC Authority has jointly devised a legal framework to enable an all-encompassing facilitation model for provision of services to the investors through a single point of contact, that is structured around only three entities, i.e., investor, OSS and Service Provider, wherein the OSS is to act as a bridge between the investor and the Service Provider. The said regime also enables business process reengineering, elimination of regulatory requirements through risk-based methodology, enactment of the compliance regime, joint inspections, empowerment of developers and other entities, and delegation of maximum powers by the government entities to the OSS focal points for the grant of approvals.

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Lt. Col Shakeel Shah (retd), in his letter, said that to establish this framework with the required mandate to effectively and efficiently operate across all SEZS in Pakistan and truly provide facilitation to the investor at his doorstep, a robust law has been drafted by BoI in consultation with the CPEC Authority that is founded upon BoI’s past experiences of dealing with investors being an IPA and SEZ Secretariat, as well as, regional best practices of Bangladesh, Indonesia, China and Dubai in successfully establishing such OSS through dedicated legal statues with maximum facilitation to the investor and minimum risk for the public at large.

On December 27, 2021, at a meeting presided over by the Prime Minister, the SEZ facilitation model was approved and all provincial governments and concerned Federal Ministries directed to coordinate with BoI and finalize implementation details of the model, including required amendments in relevant legal statutes lo enable amongst others empowerment of developers, elimination of regulatory requirement and a robust compliance regime for services.

In a subsequent meeting held on January 5, 2022 in the Prime Minister’s Office it was decided that as per the previous practice followed during the development of the first phase of SEZ OSS, BoI will once again hold exhaustive stakeholders’ meeting to finalise the implementation details so as to proceed further within the given timeframe.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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