Pakistan has improved its position on World Bank (WB) Ease of Doing Business Index for the second consecutive year, according to the annual report issued by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). As per World Bank’s latest rankings on ease of doing business for 2020, Pakistan has improved its position by 28 points from 136 to 108 which is an unprecedented improvement, report said. Out of 6 reform areas acknowledged in 2020 report, the highest improvement of 58 points has been made in Starting a Business indicator where SECP is leading the reform process. Pakistan’s ranking in this indicator has improved from 130 to 72 and is placed at 2nd position in South Asian countries in terms of ease of Starting a Business. This improvement is primarily due to integration of SECP e-Services with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Employees Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) at the Federal level and with Business Registration portals of Punjab and Sindh at the Provincial level. After this integration, SECP’s eServices is offering one window facility for company registration with FBR (NTN registration), EOBI, provincial employees social security institutions (PESSI/SESSI), Labor Department and Excise and Taxation Department of Punjab and Sindh. As a result of this reform, number of procedures to start a business as recorded in the Doing Business Report 2020 have been reduced from 10 to 5 and Pakistan has been able to ranked at first in South Asia and 6th among the top ten reformers globally. Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) Act, 2016 (STA), enacted on July 01, 2016, provides a comprehensive legal framework for creation, perfection, priority and enforcement of security interest on movable assets. STA applied to both incorporated and unincorporated entities with certain exemptions. The charges created by companies continue to be registered in the register maintained by the SECP under the Companies Act, 2017 while charges created by unincorporated entities are required to be registered in the Secured Transactions Registry (STR) established under section 19 of the STA. The administrative powers under the STA relating to operationalization of the STR have been entrusted to the Commission through the Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. The SECP, with financial support from DFID (UK), has launched the STR on April 30, 2020. SMEDA: Participants of a three-day pre-budget consultative session conducted by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) have demanded simplification and relaxation in taxes with an added access to finance for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) sector. The session conducted online was presided over by Hashim Raza, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) SMEDA and was attended by a large number of participants from chambers of commerce & industry, and trade associations of Lahore, Sialkot, Karachi, Dadu, Peshawar, Chakwal, Jehlum, Sahiwal, Mirpurkhas, Mardan, and Kohat. In his opening address, Hashim Raza said that SMEDA had started a move to facilitate creation of a conducive business environment for SMEs in the country. He invited the participants to share their views, proposals and recommendations for consideration of the government while formulating the Federal Budget 2021-22. He also apprised the participants of developments being made in the SME sector through the recently approved National SME Policy Action Plan 2020. The SMEDA CEO said, the private sector had an important role to play in sustainable development of the country. Input received from the private sector would form the basis of formulating recommendations for the Federal Government’s consideration for the upcoming federal budget to provide necessary support to SMEs in such critical times, he added. During the three-day session, participants proposed to introduce measures for simplification of taxation procedures, relaxation of custom duties and tariffs, facilitation for improving SMEs’ access to finance, infrastructure development, removing tax anomalies and double taxation at provincial level, reduction of corporate tax on SMEs from 25 per cent to 20 per cent, financial support to mining sector for acquisition of modern technology, provision of testing facilities to footwear sector, reduction in sales tax for marble and granite sector, inclusion of leasing companies and modaraba in concessional schemes of SBP, removal of tax anomalies faced by tea manufacturing sector, developing gems cities in Lahore, Karachi and Hyderabad and provision of R&D grant for sector development. They also stressed the need for providing testing facilities and research and development support for improving product quality. Women entrepreneurs called for the special package for women owned businesses aiming to enhance women participation in economic activity.