At the beginning of the session, we addressed the stakeholders regarding the nature of the program being the discussion of the Industrial Enterprise Bill drafted by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies. We also clarified the progress status of the bill whereby the bill has now been amended and passed by both houses of the Federal parliament (i.e., House of Representatives and National Assembly). As such, the bill now only awaits its authorization by the President.
The discussion session began with a presentation that exposed the areas and the clauses of the bill that our in-house research found as being problematic, and also discussed the possible amendments that could have accompanied the bill. The presentation was later followed by the discussion session among the participating stakeholders that discussed the very problem areas identified by the in-house research in along with discussing their viewpoints regarding them.
The nature of problems that were identified and presented by the in—house research were as follows
- Provision for registration of Industrial Enterprises at Provincial Level potentially increasing the number of level of governments of which enterprises have to follow the regulatory mandates
- Unspecified time period for conclusion of application for registration
- Unspecified criteria to be met for retrieval of permission to enter a particular Industrial sector that require retrieving permission before applying for registration
- The problem with composition of Industrial and Investment Promotion Board (IIPB) with members holding ex-officio status
- Unnecessary procedural hassle in having to submit application and pay unstipulated fees for retrieving enterprise records stored in electronic format
- The problem with provision of Sick Industries
- The problem with mandate requiring compulsory segregation of certain amount for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- The problem with the nature of enterprise registration application form barring registration of mobile enterprises
As the discussion session proceeded, stakeholders made sure of discussing each and every problems identified by the in-house research. At first and foremost, in regards to the provision for registration at multiple levels of governments, stakeholders advised the need for enterprise registration to be carried out through online medium of the Central registering avenue than suffer the complexities that may arrive from enabling multiple levels of government to register enterprises. As such, stakeholders also spoke of the urgency for registering entities to upgrade their web interface for facilitating online fulfilment of civil administration whilst such provisions has started to become incorporated in the amended acts. In moving into another area of problem regarding unspecified time period for ordering enterprises to submit additional document when required or regarding rejection of application altogether after submission of registration application, the stakeholders suggested that the time to be taken for an registering entity to order additional document or reject an application should be specified. The stakeholders mentioned that the government as well could do so whilst the bill mentions the specific time within when the registering entity should convey the decision regarding rejection of an application after it is being made. Meanwhile, the stakeholders additionally exposed their disappointment regarding the bill allowing five days to merely convey an application decision to applicants which could instead be done within hours.
Likewise, the stakeholders were convinced of the presented argument regarding the discretionary ability of the board members of IIPB on their own personal judgment to add unnecessary restrictive conditions for enterprises that do not fall into their favour or opposite for enterprises that do fall into their favour. Likewise, similar confirmation was retrieved for the argument regarding the unlikely chances for the board to accomplish their assigned task within the stipulated time period when the board is composed of members with ex-officio status. On such issues, stakeholder agreed on the recommendation of the in-house research to bring necessary amendment to avoid such anomalies.
Meanwhile, the stakeholders showed their displease regarding the need to submit application and pay stipulated fees for retrieval of enterprise related record preserved in electronic format, and therefore argued that the retrieval of such records should be swift and available free of cost through electronic means. Likewise, in relation to abolishment of provision related to sick industries that our in—house research suggested, the viewpoints of stakeholders were divided as some believed that it may be necessary to protect some sensitive Industries that maintains tactical essence or the ones that need to be subsidized as they are entitled to supply vital fundamental products at subsidized rate in order ensure accessibility for the economically vulnerable people. Diverse viewpoints were also observed in relation to provision of mandatory CSR as few of the stakeholders insisted that rich Corporations are taking substantial advantage of the society and they need to pay back for it. Regardless, all stakeholders agreed on the need for having specific provision in the bill regarding the type of exemptions to be provided to specific kind of industries as well as clarity in how the money retrieved from the provision of CSR is to be put into use.
Moving forward, stakeholders also agreed that there should be amendment in the enterprise registration Application form (A) in order to enable registration of mobile enterprises mostly represented by street traders. Even though it could not happen in the recently passed Industrial Enterprise Bill, stakeholders believed such amendment to be expected in forthcoming Industrial enterprise regulations that shall be based on the bill.
As such, the stakeholder discussion program concluded with essential feedbacks retrieved from the stakeholders that can be incorporated in the analysis.