The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), has felicitated the SECP on the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 promulgated on April 30. The Chamber, along with other leading business association, has in the past challenged some of the over-regulatory conditions introduced in the Companies Act 2017 without due engagement of the key stakeholders. The amendments to the Companies Act 2017, according to OICCI members, will further improve the regulatory environment in line with regional practices.
M Abdul Aleem, CE/Secretary General of the OICCI commenting on the amendments mentioned that "foreign investors have always supported regulatory environment which are predictable, consistent and transparent. The recent 30th April 2020 amendments to Companies Act 2017 had been under discussion between the SECP and other stakeholders, including OICCI during a series of "Consultative session and feedback" meetings held in 2018 and 2019 and acceptance of several recommendations should be a matter of satisfaction for business entities'. He further said 'a few recommendations are still not part of the proposed amendments and we shall request the SECP to also review these so as to attract sizeable FDI in these challenges - post Covid-19, global investment environment'. Pakistan's FDI for past several years has been less than one percent of the GDP against the regional norm of 3 percent and above.
Some of the key amendments in the Act which were challenged by the chamber, which have now been addressed in the amendments include; limiting the scope of the definition of "officer", allowing a non-listed company to buy back its shares in line with the right already given to listed companies, doing away with the requirement for a 'foreign national' to hold National Tax Number as per the provisions of IT Ordinance, 2001, deletion of the clause where a director could be disqualified for a period up to five years if the affairs of the company have purportedly been conducted in a manner which has deprived the shareholders a reasonable return, deletion of the complete section whereby, inter-alia an independent director and a non-executive director were held liable in respect of some acts of omission or commission by a listed or a public sector company, deleting the personal liability of the Directors whereby they were required to make payments under certain circumstances including a situation where the return on the investments was not according to certain criteria, doing away with the impractical provision to deposit any unclaimed or unpaid amount to the credit of the Federal Government, introduction of a ten percent shareholding threshold in the much debated section on Companies' Global Register of Beneficial Ownership and deletion of the section requiring security clearance before appointment of Directors.
A key matter recommended by OICCI, and other stakeholders, to delete the reference to 'lineal ascendants and descendants' from the ambit of related parties has not been addressed and OICCI has again requested SECP to review this important matter.
"Negative perception of Pakistan among potential foreign investors has been a key impediment in attracting sizeable FDI in the country. Pakistan's rating in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business has only recently improved to 108 from being 147 in 2018 and needs much more business friendly measures to attract its due share of the global/regional FDI ", Abdul Aleem concluded.-PR