ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday chaired a meeting to review progress on improving Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) in the country at Prime Minister’s Office. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Mr. Asad Umar, Advisor to PM on Commerce Mr. Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor to PM Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Chairman BOI Mr. Haroon Sharif, SAPM Mr. Iftikhar Durrani and senior Government officials. Chairman BOI briefed the Prime Minister about the progress on various indicators related to Ease of Doing Business (EoDB). On the issue of number of tax payments, it was informed that the number of payments have been brought down from 47 to 21. Efforts were underway to introduce E-payments of social security contributions in Sindh and Punjab. Chairman BOI said that a new system of VAT refunds would be in place by 31st March which would significantly reduce time in obtaining VAT refund. The Chairman BOI informed that efforts were also being made to improve risk-management system to reduce number of physical audits. About the ease of starting business, the Prime Minister was informed that integration of SECP with provincial portals and EOBI has been completed in Punjab however, efforts were being made to expedite launch of portal in Sindh. On ease in getting electricity, the Prime Minister was informed that significant progress has been made to facilitate provision of power and timely information to the businesses. Besides availability of required documents on web-site, full online application system was being rolled out and advance notifications were being ensured about change in tariff etc. In the area of getting credit, it was informed that Registrar would be appointed by the end of this month and rules under Secured Transaction Act were being finalized by Ministry of Finance. Chairman BOI also briefed the meeting about steps being taken to facilitate trading across borders and reducing clearance time in imports and exports. He also identified various issues mostly related to Sindh province in integration of SECP and EOBI with provincial portal, end to end automation of construction permits and availability of complete electronic database of property registry. Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasized upon the need for greater focus towards addressing EoDB issues related to Sindh since Karachi was the financial hub of the country. Briefing the meeting about various positive developments with regards to investment facilitation, it was informed that MoU on industrial cooperation has been signed with China last month. MoU with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to be signed this month whereas Investment Framework MoU with UAE is expected in February 2019. It was decided during the meeting regular EoDB meetings meeting would be chaired by the Prime Minister with participation of Chief Ministers and the provincial Chief Secretaries. It was also decided that dedicated EoDB offices would be set up at Federal and provincial level for the purpose of removing bottlenecks and facilitating investors in the smooth business operations.