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Favorable time for investment in Pakistan amid CPEC link will revive economic growth

Favorable time for investment in Pakistan amid CPEC link will revive economic growth

Interview with Mr Ashfaq Yousuf Tola – President, Tola Associates

Profile:

Professional Accomplishments

Memberships:

  • Fellow Member of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan
  • Fellow Member of the Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Pakistan
  • Life Member of Karachi Press Club
  • Life Member of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Member of Karachi Tax Bar Association

Key Achievements:

  • Presentation to IMF on Single Stage Sales Tax in December 2015.
  • Visited Turkey as an official of Government of Pakistan to study Turkish Tax System & authored a report on Turkish Taxation System.
  • Knowledge of more than 40 jurisdictions around the globe and co-authored report with Dr. Hafeez Pasha on Sindh Provincial Taxation System.
  • International Speaker on Pakistan Economy and Non-Resident Taxation in 2018 and 2019 at Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Jeddah.
  • Distinction of passing CA Examinations – Intermediate & Final (both groups together in 1st attempt) as trainee of PWC A. F. Ferguson & Co Chartered Accountants.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Tax Planning and Advisory
  • Assurance and Business Advisory Services
  • International Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Corporate Finance and Investment Advisory
  • Due diligence and Forensic audits
  • Financial Product Designing and Launching
  • Public Listings and Corporate Affairs

Key Positions:

  • Member Board – Privatization Commission, Government of Pakistan (present)
  • Chairman – Sub-Committee on Taxation for promotion of Islamic Banking Ministry of Finance, GOP.(2017)

Federal Board of Revenue, Government of Pakistan:

  • Chairman Anomaly Committee (2019)
  • Member Tax Reforms Implementation Commission (2016 to date)
  • Member Tax Reforms Commission (2015)
  • Member Tax Advisory Council (2014-15)
  • Member Taxation Reforms Co-ordination Group (2011-13)
  • Member Revenue Advisory Council (2011)

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan:

  • Member Council (present)
  • Chairman — Fiscal Laws Committee (Taxation) (present)
  • Chairman – Anti Money Laundering Committee (present)
  • Chairman — CA Joint Committee (present)
  • Member Investigation Committee (present)
  • Member Examination Committee (present)
  • Member Public Sector Committee (present)
  • Member Overseas Coordination Committee (2018)
  • Member Regional Committee – (Southern Region) (1993-1996)
  • Secretary of Regional Committee (Southern Region) (1996)
  • Member Education and Training Committee, (1994-95, ‘95-96, ‘96-97)
  • Member Technical Services Committee, and 1992-93, ‘93-94)
  • Chairman Chartered Accountant Students’ Association (1993)

South Asian Federation of Accountants:

  • Member Fiscal Law Committee (present)
  • Member Tariff Committee (present)

Federal Tax Ombudsman:

Member Advisory Committee (South) (present)

Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance:

  • Member Board of Directors, and (present)
  • Member Audit Committee (present)

Pakistan Institute of Public Finance Accountant:

  • Member Board of Governors (present)
  • Chairman CPD Committee (present)

Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Pakistan:

  • Secretary of Karachi Branch Council (KBC) (1995 and 1996)
  • Elected Member KBC and Convener Seminar and Publication Committees (1992-96)
  • Member Technical Committee
  • Member Research Committee

Karachi Club

  • President (2012 and 2013; 2016 and 2017)
  • Honorary Secretary (2008)
  • Member Managing Committee (2003, 2004)

Professional Experience

  • President Tola Associates (April 2017 to date)
  • Senior Partner Naveed Zafar Ashfaq Jaffery & Co, Chartered Accountants, a member firm of Prime Global International (2012 to March 2017)
  • Partner Nasir Javaid Maqsood Imran Ashfaq, Chartered Accountants (2011 to March 2012)
  • Principal Strategic Officer in Stallion Textiles (Private) Limited (2008 to 2010)
  • Chief Executive Officer in Fincon (2000 to 2007)

 

Pakistan & Gulf Economist had an exclusive conversation with Mr Ashfaq Yousuf Tola regarding economy. Excerpts of the conversation are as follows:

Pakistan is amongst the fastest growing economies in the world. Its rapidly growing youth population and infrastructure development combined with an increasingly stable political situation has contributed to a 5.5 percent growth rate. Combine this with one of the most liberal approaches to repatriating profits and it is not hard to see the advantages of investing in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has also taken steps to encourage investment especially in the area of industrial sector. The infrastructure, thanks to CPEC has been greatly improved resulting in a more efficient transportation system across the country. Pakistan’s investment policy has been formulated to create an investor-friendly environment with a focus on further opening up the economy and marketing the potential for direct foreign investment.

Various incentives have been offered to attract foreign investment including full repatriation of capital, capital gains, dividends and profits. Furthermore, according to various economic commentators, Pakistan has one of the most liberal investment policy regimes and public-private partnership frameworks in the entire South Asian region.

In this era of globalization, a distinguishing feature is cross-border flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) and creation of footprints by multi-national companies. Every developing nation is striving to implement investment liberalization policies to enhance growth by attracting FDI. In Pakistan, the investment policies are directed towards opening services, social, infrastructure and agricultural sectors for both local and foreign nationals by reducing cost of doing business, reducing processes of doing business, easing of doing businesses with creation of industrial clusters and Social Economic Zones and Linkages of trade and industrial and monetary policies for greater convergence.

The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan is governed under policies issued by Board of Investment (BOI) from time to time including privatization, liberalization and deregulation, which is in line with existing transformation of Pakistan as regional trade hub and increased regional connectivity through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), political stability and revival of economic growth to catch up with the Eastern Asian economies.

If foreign investment and local investment is made in corporate sectors, consideration is also required to be given to Companies Act, 2017, other related laws and rules governed by Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

In order to protect and stimulate investment (both local and foreign) in Pakistan, the Investment Policy 2013 has been designed to provide a comprehensive framework for creating a conducive business environment for the attraction of FDI. For implementation of the policy, FDI Strategy for Pakistan, 2013-2017, outlining a detailed plan for structuring the platforms has been formulated.

Following basic principles provide theme of the Policy:

  1. Reducing the cost of doing business in Pakistan.
  2. Reducing the processes of doing business.
  3. Ease of doing business with creation of industrial clusters and Special Economic Zones.
  4. Linkages of trade, industrial and monetary policies for greater convergence.

All these advantages combined, shows that the time is ripe for foreign investment, resulting in Pakistan’s major economic growth.

Pakistan has witnessed rapid urbanization and emergence of megacities with currently 36 percent of population residing in urban areas leading to second largest urbanized nation in South Asia with 50 percent of Pakistan is now residing in towns of 5,000 people or more. Pakistan has the largest young population as well as largest refugees’ population in the world.

The tax rate for companies in Pakistan does not differentiate between foreign and domestic firms. This once again underlines the fact that Pakistani laws are very favorable towards foreign investment (under Pakistani law, there is no distinction between tax on profits of domestic and foreign companies).

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