LAHORE: The Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has failed to achieve some of the targets of the ‘Improvements to the Arrangements for Starting a Business’ project, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The project was started in June 2016 to attract investments in Punjab and to improve the ease of doing business in Pakistan.
Ease of Doing Business is an index published by the World Bank and includes different parameters which define the ease of doing business in a country. Economies are ranked on their ease of doing business, from 1–190. A high ease of doing business ranking means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local firm.
The project aimed to develop a system for online maintenance of HR record of businesses with Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) thus making it easy to make monthly payments whereas to achieve the above-mentioned objectives the PITB had to developed a software for business registration portal and to establish business registration unit.
The directorate general monitoring and evaluation (DGM&E) recently evaluated the project and issued a report which revealed that the PC-I of the project, which was provided by the concerned department, states that Pakistan was ranked at 122nd in 2016, however, the World Bank report states that Pakistan was ranked at 144th in 2016.
The report while giving its observations states, “Business portal for industries department has been developed and live. There are about 17,000 requests received for business registration and about 16,500 certificates issued. However, when data was requested for survey information of only 8,917 business were provided.”
The report further states, “Although project has spent lot of money on advertisement of online business portal but as per results of survey 88% business get registered through law firms on behalf of actual business owners. 88% of respondent did not know about online business registration portal, while 12% people come know about the portal through newspaper advertisement. It raises questions on methods adopted for promotion of the business portal.”
“76% respondents of the survey responded that no extra money was charged from them for registration of business while 24% people have to pay extra money. The requirements of the system are not well documented.”
Report stated, “PESSI portal is not secured as it is not using HTTPS protocol. For PESSI payments can be made through ATM but entering of challan number on ATM is not available. Data for PESSI contributions was not shared by PESSI department so analysis regarding different mode of payment was not performed.”
Report also reveals, “Integration with FBR is not done yet. It is pending due to procedural delays at departmental level”.
The DGM&E also ranked the project as partially successful.
Commenting on the issue, PITB Project Director Saima Sheikh told Pakistan Today that the scope of the project was limited to Lahore because the World Bank considered only Lahore and Karachi for this project.
“All the objectives of the project have been achieved. We cannot force citizens to use this system by themselves as most businessmen have ‘Seth Mentality’ and they prefer to hire a lawyer for registering their business on the portal,” she said, adding that integrating FBR into this system was not part of the project. However, once FBR gives clearance, this system will be integrated with the tax authority, she said.
“PESSI is automated in Lahore and soon it will be functional in other districts. For the security of PESSI we have asked them to purchase the SSL security layer. PESSI management was facing problems regarding the payment reconciliation and we have talked to BOP for it. We are having a ranking of 24 on World Bank whereas we have been in the top 10 performers,” she concluded.