KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that his government has embarked upon a comprehensive plan to introduce reforms in every sector to attract investment to the province.

He was holding a luncheon meeting with the World Bank (WB) team, which, led by its Country Director (CD) Pachamuthu Illangovan, called on him here at the CM House on Tuesday.

The chief minister was assisted by provincial ministers Sohail Anwar Siyal, Jam Mehtab Dahar, Syed Nasir Shah, Special Assistant Shahid Thahim, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, provincial secretaries, chairmen of Board of Investment and Sindh Board of Revenue and other concerned officers.

The WB country chief gave a presentation on Sindh Growth Strategy, chalked out with the objective to improving investment climate, rural service delivery, connectivity with markets and strengthening government credibility.

Talking about improved investment climate in the province, Illangovan said that this could be achieved through the introduction of reforms, regulations and launching e-government system.

He also suggested stimulating urban land markets through better regional planning and land regulations.

The WB country director suggested improvement in rural service delivery through Public Private Partnership (PPP). “You (the government) will have to strengthen your capacity for service delivery and for reducing gaps in health and education outcomes for women,” he counselled.

Talking about improved connectivity with markets, he said that there was a need for connecting villages with cities, particularly the port cities.

He noted that the government’s credibility could be strengthened by starting a dialogue with the private sector, improving budgeting & budget tracking system and receiving online citizen feedback.

In the meeting, the chief minister discussed with the WB team ‘programme for results (PR)’ with proposed interventions and expected results.

The interventions Syed Murad Ali Shah discussed, included automation of all business licences, strengthening contract enforcement process, leverage to private sector to upgrade, develop and manage well-serviced industrial estates and zones and establishment of a combined effluent treatment plant on PPP mode and reinforcement of Sindh Board of Investment for targeted and strategic investment promotion.

It was pointed out that with the implementation of under-discussion interventions, the government’s approval time would be reduced alongside reduced compliance cost. There would be lower risks of doing business, and it would achieve export competitiveness and access to European markets.

Easier access to serviced industrial land and lower industrial pollution would lead to increased local and foreign investment.

It was also agreed in the meeting that there was a need for digital and transport connectivity. Therefore, it was decided to develop and implement a comprehensive roadmap for provincial e-governance system for efficient service delivery.

It was also agreed to explore the avenues to develop and implement a strategic framework/fund for transport connectivity through PPP mode.

The meeting discussed problems in five projects of the World Bank in progress in Sindh. These are Sindh Public Sector Management Reform; Sindh Agriculture Growth Project, Sindh Barrage Improvement Project; Sindh Skills Development Project and Second Sindh Education project. The meeting decided to hold strategic discussion on key issues identified in five projects for which P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem would lead the Sindh team.

P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, while briefing on the reforms made so far, said that for ‘Ease of Doing Business (DB)’ a cell had been set up at the Board of Investment to mobilise authorities relating to DB indicators such as business registration; dealing with construction permits, registering property and enforcing contracts.

The project would become completely functional from the next financial year. Chairperson BoI also brifed the meeting on DB cell.

Secretary Education Aziz Uqaili briefed the meeting on some of the achievements registered in the education sector.

He said that the use of technology had made the return of teachers to classrooms possible besides slightly improving enrolment.

The CM said that under the reforms programme, Sindh Business Registration Portal would be launched by end of December 2017. “It includes procurement of hardware and software; hiring of the staff to manage the portal,” he said, and added that one-window facility (OWF) for the construction of permits at Sindh Building Authority would also be launched for which a firm would be hired to design the OWF and related hard and software.

Participants of the meeting held a detailed discussion on BRT systems. Transport and Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah briefed them about the Orange Line and Blue Line projects.

The WB team showed interest in financing the Blue Line project. However, the WB experts were not in favour of elevated routes of the BRT.