KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah along with Prime Minister’s Advisor Razak Dawood and Country Director of the World Bank Patchmauthu Illangovan performed launching ceremony of `Sindh Doing Business Reforms Exhibition II,’ the Sindh Business Registration Portal (SBRP) as part of the Ease of Doing Business Reforms in the province.

The event was hosted by the Investment Department, Government of Sindh. The World Bank has been providing technical support to the provincial government for the implementation and facilitation of the Doing Business Reforms. The Government of Sindh has also had the support of Department for International Development (DFID), UK.

Talking about World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, Syed Murad Ali Shah said that it was an important measure with economic and political consequences. Elaborating further, he said on the economic side, the Doing Business report has become one of the most important indicators for companies choosing countries to invest in and on the political side, it is an index on which countries compete, and against which success of governments is measured.

“There is enough evidence to show that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows are higher for economies performing better on the Doing Business Index,” he said and added “on an average across economies, a difference of one percentage point in regulatory quality as measured by distance to frontier scores is associated with a difference in annual FDI inflows of $250–500 million”.

The chief minister said that Sindh was fully resolved to undertake more reforms and adopt policies that create an enabling environment for the private sector and make doing business easy in the province. “The private sector provides jobs, currently a challenge for our populous country; it generates revenue for the government and it triggers a virtuous cycle of skilled population and financial inclusion,” he said.

It may be noted that ease of doing business reforms are aimed at facilitating the domestic producers as well as foreign investors. The benefits of domestic businesses are obvious. The foreign businesses not only provide jobs, but also bring new technology with them.

Appreciating the support of World Bank, he expressed his support for the World Bank’s Top 20 Business Cities initiative in 2020. “We will ensure that cities of Sindh participate fully in this competition,” he said.

The chief minister emphasized the need for inter-provincial coordination and coordination between the federal and provincial departments. “We have never felt shy in extending our support or invoking support from other provinces and the federal departments to achieve our common objective of prosperous Pakistan,” he said and added: “We will continue with this policy and look forward to working together in a collegial environment in future as well.

He also appreciated the technical help and assistance extended by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) in the development of the Sindh Business Registration Portal. He welcomed the delegation from Punjab in the event.

Shah highlighted some of the milestones achieved. SBCA has exempted three NOCs and reduced procedures to get construction permits from 15 previously to just seven.

The Board of Revenue is a major success story in Sindh. LARMIS has reduced the time to buy and register property by more than 90 percent. Under the project, 90 per cent of the land records of all 29 districts in the province — maintained since 1985 — have been computerized and verified by deputy commissioners of districts.

The Board of Revenue has launched another portal which allows citizens to track their property deeds online.

SEPA has exempted low impact projects from approval and improved its service delivery timeline. It is a significant step achieved in record time to deregulate our business environment.

The KWSB has simplified its procedures and improving their service delivery timelines by more than 50 percent. Commercial connections are now provided in 21 days as compared to 61 days previously.

Those who were present on the occasion included members from relevant stakeholder departments of the Government of Sindh, representatives of the World Bank, and private sector representatives. Those who addressed the audience at the occasion included Muhammad Waseem, Chairman, Planning and Development (P&D) Board, Sindh, Ahsan Ali Mangi, Secretary, Investment Department, Sindh, and Illango Patchamuthu, Country Director, World Bank.

The keynote speech was delivered by Abdul Razzak Dawood, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, who reaffirmed the focus of the government of Pakistan on creating an enabling business environment in the country by furthering the agenda of the Ease of Doing Business Reforms.

Speaking at the occasion, Patchamuthu congratulated the Chief Minister Sindh for spearheading the DB reforms, and also lauded the efforts of the departments of Sindh government, especially Investment Department, that completed several reforms as part of a series of 100-Days DB Reform Sprints.

The Third 100-Days Reform Sprint has been successfully completed, while the Fourth 100-Days Sprint commenced at the occasion.

The World Bank Country Director added that it was critical that the ongoing reform momentum is sustained to help Pakistan become a competitive and business-friendly investment destination. DB reforms are prominently featured in the Pakistan @100 initiative which aims for the country to be in the top 25 economies globally by 2047.

The Sindh Business Registration Portal (SBRP) has been launched as an online regulatory approvals and inspection interface. This is the result of number of processes and consistent efforts. The Portal would ensure businesses registration swiftly by providing access to a slew of online services, cutting down the cost, time and effort of visiting multiple government departments for the purpose. The government of Sindh, and in turn the Department of Investment Sindh, have led the way and paved the path for this milestone. Now any new business in Sindh can easily be registered online quickly, saving visits to multiple departments for paper-based documentation. Entrepreneurs can register their business with 4 provincial departments at the Portal such as Labour department (Shops & Establishments), Sindh Employees Social Security Institution, Industries Department (Partnership Firms) and Excise & Taxation department.

The Portal will develop links between four provincial departments and federal departments (NADRA & SECP) for smoother and swifter business registration. In the province of Sindh, the most salient DB Reforms have been in the four indicators: Starting a Business; Registering Property; Getting Construction Permits; Getting Electricity.