ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has taken serious exception to the findings of a World Bank group report regarding the ease of doing business in Pakistan. The World Bank issued its Doing Business Report, 2017 recently and ranked Pakistan 174 out of 189 economies on the ‘Trading Across Border’ indicator. In the report, the World Bank has based the ranking of Pakistan on figures which they obtained from contributors from the business community and lawyers. Sources at the Finance Ministry revealed that when the data of the reports was compared with the figures obtained by various computerised systems during clearance of goods for import and export by the Ministry of Finance, it was revealed that many of the findings were based on exaggerated and inaccurate information. The World Bank has reported that documentary compliance for export takes 59 hours and costs $307, while in reality, the time taken for this purpose in Pakistan is a mere 12 hours at a cost of $45 only. Similarly, border compliance was reported to be taking 75 hours against 5 as recorded by the Customs Computerised System. Cost for the later was placed at $426 against $105 claimed by government functionaries. Cost for import was also reported to be higher by the World Bank. Documentary compliance was reported to cost $786 and border compliance $957, while government figures come to $260 and $545, respectively. Officials say that such discrepancies in the World Bank’s report were also highlighted by various stakeholders in a recent meeting in Karachi in which the World Bank’s Doing Business Team participated. Customs brokers and exporters were astonished to see such exaggerated figures in the report. A video conference on the issue was also held with the Doing Business Team in Singapore by ministry officials. According to documents available with Daily Times, the World Bank has acknowledged the flaws in the report and promised to look into Pakistan’s concerns. Senior customs officials who participated in the deliberations told Daily Times that the documents shown by the World Bank as mandatory for import and export were not even required in the first place, raising serious doubts about the methodology of the World Bank’s surveys. Officials at the Ministry of Finance were of the view that such biased surveys negatively affected the image of Pakistan. They stated that this new report has acknowledged in not less than nine places that Pakistan has introduced a web-based clearance electronic platform for customs and other regulatory clearances, but this has not been reflected in the ranking. The ministry has also arranged different seminars and interactive sessions to inform the contributors of the significance of the survey. Business community members said that Pakistan was an emerging economy and had introduced various reforms in the field of trade and business. However, they said many problems still persisted that needed to be addressed on a war footing. They said that the survey forms were very complex and many businessmen did know how to fill them. Some of them handed over such forms to their employees, who just filled these without realising that such reports needed careful attention. Officials at the Federal Board of Revenue also questioned the criteria of selection of the contributors. Many of the contributors are either lawyers or charted accountants. Such contributors prefer to vent their frustration with the government in international surveys to settle some scores, they said. Business leaders, however, negated such an impression and stated that they were patriotic people who would do their best for the country. However, the government should improve their performance instead of blaming the contributors, they said. They also urged the World Bank not to share their details with the government as they feared repercussions for telling the truth. They hoped that the recently approved National Single Window mechanism for international trade would considerably reduce the cost of doing business and any improvement would be automatically reflected in the surveys.