Published Date: May 18, 2019
Regulatory bodies not business-friendly
Parliamentary Secretary, National History and Literary Heritage Division, Ghazala Saifi has criticised regulatory bodies for not being business-friendly.
Speaking at a roundtable meeting on ‘Regulatory Reform Priorities for Social Enterprises’, Ms Saifi called for raising awareness on the rules, regulations and laws of the regulatory authorities.
The roundtable was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with British Council and UNESCAP.
“Start-ups, creative social enterprises, businesses and the general public usually see the regulatory bodies, including Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), as a threat and fear to approach for any guidance,” she said.
Ms Saifi added: “Regulatory bodies should work on achieving confidence through removing the fear factor by providing facilitation and guidance.”
She said the Creative Social Enterprises (CSE) sector has the potential to create employment and can help achieve inclusive growth, but the sector is facing the issue of recognition in the legal regime due to lack of an agreeable and legit definition.
She also suggested that consultation with all stakeholders is needed and legal backing was needed for the CSE.
The issues highlighted by her were acknowledged by the FBR Director General Dr Mohammad Ashfaq Ahmed.
He said the social enterprise sector needed to be differentiated from non-profit organisations (NPOs) as the sector generated taxable income.
“In order to get tax incentive, government subsidies and other related benefits, there is a need for legal framework available for social enterprises to help recognise the sector. We need to have a social enterprise law to give a status and structure to social enterprise sector,” he added.
SECP Joint Director Khalida Perveen emphasised the need for exploring the existing benefits provided under the law, which should be made available across the board.
She said the social enterprise sector can only be provided with tax benefits unless or until there is any legal structure available.
While the representative from Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) said that there were no such rules or procedures available under PPRA law which may provide any favour to any enterprise sector, including non-profit organisations, and amendments in the PPRA law, rules and procedures were required to favour social enterprise sector in public procurement.
Director Society, British Council, Sadia Rehman said her organisation through programmes like Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies (DICE) was promoting skills and supported the development of creative and social enterprises for inclusive economic growth in developing countries like Pakistan.
She said the focus was on skill development and supporting young people, who were vulnerable, and lacked the opportunities to grow and thrive.
The meeting ended with the intent that the government needs to show seriousness in helping promote social business in Pakistan through promulgation of a social enterprise law.
In drafting this law the experience of South Korea, the Philippines, India and Thailand will be studied.
The PPRA will study the idea of ‘social value’ in procurement. This will also prompt other businesses to demonstrate social and environmental value in their business models. Finally, a public-private policy working group will be formed to take forward implementation of these proposals.