Common compliance issues faced by businesses in Pakistan



Tax compliance 

Tax compliance is a term that refers to the ability and willingness of taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations. In Pakistan, tax compliance is a significant challenge for businesses, as they have to deal with a complex and frequently changing tax system. We will briefly explain the main aspects of tax compliance for businesses in Pakistan. 

 Tax Registration 

The first aspect of tax compliance is tax registration. Businesses have to register with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and obtain a National Tax Number (NTN) or a Sales Tax Registration Number (STRN), depending on the nature and scope of their activities. Businesses also have to register with the provincial revenue authorities if they are liable to pay provincial sales tax or other taxes. 

 Tax Filing 

The second aspect of tax compliance is tax filing. Businesses have to file various tax returns on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, depending on the type and amount of taxes they are liable to pay. For example, businesses have to file monthly sales tax returns, quarterly withholding tax statements, and annual income tax returns. Businesses have to ensure that they file their tax returns on time and accurately, as any errors or omissions can result in penalties and audits. 

 Tax Compliance 

The third aspect of tax compliance is tax payment. Businesses have to pay their taxes according to the prescribed rates and deadlines. For example, businesses have to pay advance income tax on a quarterly basis, sales tax on a monthly basis, and withholding tax at the time of deduction or payment. Businesses have to ensure that they pay their taxes correctly and in full, as any underpayment or non-payment can result in fines and interest. 

Tax compliance is a crucial responsibility for businesses in Pakistan, as it affects their reputation, profitability, and sustainability. However, many businesses face difficulties in complying with their tax obligations due to the complexity of the tax system, lack of awareness of the tax laws, and limited resources. Therefore, businesses should seek professional advice and assistance from qualified tax consultants and accountants to ensure that they comply with their tax obligations in an efficient and effective manner. 

Corporate governance

Corporate governance is the system of rules, practices, and processes that guide how a company is run. It affects the rights and responsibilities of shareholders, directors, managers, and other stakeholders. Corporate governance also influences how a company sets its goals, makes decisions, and monitors its performance.

In Pakistan, corporate governance practices are becoming increasingly important as the country’s economy grows and attracts more investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has issued various codes and guidelines to regulate corporate governance in different sectors, such as banking, insurance, and public sector enterprises. These regulations aim to ensure that companies operate in a fair, transparent, and accountable manner.

Common Issues

However, many companies in Pakistan may face challenges in complying with corporate governance standards. Some of the common issues include:

– Lack of awareness or understanding of the corporate governance requirements and their benefits
– Lack of qualified and independent directors who can oversee the management and protect the interests of shareholders
– Lack of effective internal controls and audit systems that can detect and prevent fraud and errors
– Lack of disclosure and transparency in financial reporting and communication with stakeholders
– Lack of stakeholder engagement and participation in corporate governance matters


These challenges can have serious consequences for companies in Pakistan. Non-compliance with corporate governance regulations can result in financial penalties, legal action, and damage to a company’s reputation. Moreover, poor corporate governance can undermine a company’s performance, profitability, and sustainability.

Therefore, it is essential for companies in Pakistan to adopt and implement good corporate governance practices. This can help them to:

– Enhance their credibility and trustworthiness among investors, customers, regulators, and other stakeholders
– Improve their operational efficiency and effectiveness by reducing costs, risks, and conflicts
– Increase their access to capital and markets by attracting more funding and business opportunities
– Strengthen their competitiveness and innovation by fostering a culture of accountability and excellence
– Support their social responsibility and sustainability by addressing the environmental, social, and ethical aspects of their business

Corporate governance is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It depends on the size, nature, and context of each company. However, some of the key principles that underpin good corporate governance are:


– Accountability: Directors and managers should be accountable for their actions and decisions to the shareholders and other stakeholders
– Transparency: Companies should disclose relevant and reliable information about their activities, performance, and risks to the shareholders and other stakeholders
– Fairness: Companies should treat all shareholders and stakeholders fairly and equitably
– Responsibility: Companies should comply with the laws and regulations that apply to them and act in a socially responsible manner

By following these principles, companies in Pakistan can improve their corporate governance practices and enhance their long-term value creation.

Labour laws compliance

A key challenge for Pakistani businesses

Labour laws are a set of rules and regulations that govern the relationship between employers and employees. They aim to protect the rights and interests of both parties and ensure fair and safe working conditions. However, complying with labour laws can be a daunting task for many businesses in Pakistan. We will briefly explain why labour laws compliance is a challenge and how businesses can overcome it.

Why is labour laws compliance a challenge?

Pakistan has a complex and diverse legal system that consists of various sources of law, such as the Constitution, statutes, case law, Islamic law, and customary law. Labour laws are derived from these sources and vary across different sectors, provinces, and regions. Some of the main labour laws in Pakistan are:

– The Industrial Relations Act 2012, which regulates the collective bargaining and dispute resolution process between employers and workers.
– The Minimum Wages Ordinance 1961, which sets the minimum wages for different categories of workers.
– The Factories Act 1934, which prescribes the health and safety standards for factories and industrial establishments.
– The Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Act 1976, which provides pension benefits to retired workers.
– The Employees’ Social Security Ordinance 1965, which covers medical care and cash benefits for workers in case of sickness, injury, or death.

These laws cover a wide range of issues, such as working hours, overtime pay, leave entitlements, trade unions, strikes, layoffs, terminations, severance pay, social security contributions, and occupational health and safety. However, many businesses find it difficult to keep up with the ever-changing regulations and may inadvertently violate them. This can result in penalties and legal action from the authorities or claims from the workers.

Compliance with labour laws is particularly important in Pakistan, as the labour force is a significant asset for many businesses in the country. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the labour force participation rate was 55.7% in 2019-20, with 64.9 million people employed in various sectors. The majority of the workers are engaged in informal or unregulated sectors, such as agriculture, construction, trade, and services. These sectors are often characterized by low wages, long hours, poor working conditions, and lack of social protection. Therefore, complying with labour laws can help businesses improve their productivity, reputation, and competitiveness by ensuring fair treatment and welfare of their workers.

How can businesses overcome the challenge?

To overcome the challenge of labour laws compliance, businesses need to adopt a proactive and systematic approach. Some of the steps that businesses can take are:

– Conduct a comprehensive audit of their current labour practices and identify any gaps or risks in compliance.
– Develop and implement a clear and consistent labour policy that reflects their values and objectives and complies with the applicable laws and regulations.
– Train and educate their managers and employees on their rights and responsibilities under the labour laws and the labour policy.
– Establish effective mechanisms for communication and consultation with their workers and their representatives on labour-related issues.
– Monitor and review their labour performance regularly and take corrective actions if needed.
– Seek professional advice or assistance from experts or consultants on complex or specific labour matters.

By following these steps, businesses can not only comply with labour laws but also create a positive and productive work environment that benefits both employers and employees.

Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property rights: Protecting intellectual property rights is a challenge for businesses in Pakistan due to the slow legal process and lack of enforcement. Intellectual property theft and infringement are common in Pakistan, and businesses may struggle to protect their intellectual property rights. Failure to protect intellectual property can result in financial losses and damage to a company’s reputation. Companies in Pakistan may need to invest in legal resources and strategies to protect their intellectual property.

We will briefly explain what intellectual property rights are, why they are important for businesses in Pakistan, and what steps can be taken to protect them.

What are intellectual property rights?

Intellectual property rights (IPR) are the legal rights that protect the creations of the mind, such as inventions, designs, artistic works, trademarks, and trade secrets. IPR allow the creators and owners of intellectual property to control and benefit from their work, and to prevent unauthorized use or exploitation by others.

Why are intellectual property rights important for businesses in Pakistan?

IPR are important for businesses in Pakistan because they can:

– Encourage innovation and creativity by rewarding the efforts and investments of the creators and owners of intellectual property
– Enhance the competitiveness and reputation of businesses by distinguishing their products and services from others in the market
– Attract foreign direct investment and technology transfer by creating a conducive environment for intellectual property protection and enforcement
– Promote economic growth and development by stimulating research and development, generating employment, and increasing exports

What steps can be taken to protect intellectual property rights in Pakistan?

The following steps can be taken to protect IPR in Pakistan:

– Register your intellectual property with the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan), which is the autonomous body responsible for managing all IP offices in the country
– Develop an IP strategy that aligns with your business objectives and identifies your IP assets, risks, opportunities, and challenges
– Monitor the market and enforce your IP rights against any infringers or violators through legal action or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms
– Seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Pakistani law and can assist you with IP registration, protection, and enforcement
– Educate yourself and your employees about IP laws and best practices, and create awareness about IP rights among your customers, suppliers, partners, and competitors.

Environmental regulations

Environmental regulations are rules and standards that aim to protect the environment and human health from pollution and degradation. In Pakistan, environmental regulations are not always well-enforced, but companies are still expected to comply with them. These regulations cover issues such as waste disposal, air pollution, and water pollution. Many businesses struggle to implement environmentally friendly practices due to a lack of awareness or resources. Failure to comply with environmental regulations can result in legal action, fines, and damage to a company’s reputation.

We will briefly explain the main environmental regulations in Pakistan and how they affect businesses. We will also provide some tips on how to comply with them and improve your environmental performance.

Environmental Law

The main environmental law in Pakistan is the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA) of 1997, which was amended in 2012. This law provides the legal framework for environmental protection and conservation in the country. It also establishes the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) as the main regulatory authority for environmental matters.

According to PEPA, any project or activity that is likely to cause adverse environmental effects must undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before it can be approved or executed. The EIA is a process of identifying, predicting, evaluating, and mitigating the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project or activity. The EIA report must be submitted to Pak-EPA for review and approval .

PEPA also sets the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) for various parameters of air, water, and noise pollution. These standards specify the maximum permissible limits of pollutants that can be emitted or discharged by different sources. Any source that exceeds these limits is liable to be penalized by Pak-EPA .

In addition to PEPA, there are other policies and initiatives that aim to promote environmental sustainability in Pakistan. For example, the National Environment Policy of 2005 provides a comprehensive framework for addressing the environmental challenges and opportunities in the country. It outlines the principles, objectives, strategies, and actions for achieving sustainable development. Similarly, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is a scheme under the Kyoto Protocol that allows developing countries like Pakistan to earn carbon credits by implementing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


As a business owner or manager, you have a responsibility to comply with the environmental regulations in Pakistan and contribute to the protection of the environment and human health. Here are some tips on how to do so:

– Conduct an environmental audit of your business operations and identify the sources and levels of pollution that you generate or contribute to.
– Implement measures to reduce, reuse, recycle, or recover your waste materials and resources.
– Adopt cleaner production techniques and technologies that minimize waste generation and energy consumption.
– Install pollution control devices and equipment that reduce your emissions or effluents to meet the NEQS.
– Monitor your environmental performance regularly and keep records of your compliance status.
– Seek guidance and assistance from Pak-EPA or other relevant authorities on how to conduct an EIA or apply for a CDM project.
– Educate and train your staff on environmental awareness and best practices.
– Communicate your environmental policy and achievements to your stakeholders and customers.

By complying with the environmental regulations in Pakistan, you can not only avoid legal troubles and fines, but also improve your reputation, competitiveness, and profitability. You can also benefit from the opportunities that arise from the growing demand for green products and services in the market. Moreover, you can play a positive role in preserving the environment and enhancing the quality of life for yourself and others.

We hope this blog post has given you a brief overview of the environmental regulations in Pakistan and how they affect businesses. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at Thank you for reading!

Overall, compliance issues can be complex and challenging for businesses in Pakistan. To mitigate these risks, companies should invest in proper compliance measures, including training for employees, robust internal controls, and regular audits. Additionally, companies may need to seek legal advice or consulting services to ensure they are meeting their compliance obligations.