KARACHI  -   Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said the Karachi Circular Railway project can be started only after the federal government gives the provincial government the right of way.

He said this while talking to the media after inaugurating the Automated Single Window Facility for Automation of Construction Permits at the Sindh Building Control Authority under Ease of Doing Business on Saturday. He was accompanied by Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, P&D Chairperson Naheed Shah, Home Secretary Kazi Kabir, SBCA DG Iftikhar Qaimkhani and others.

He said that he had not received the order of the Supreme Court yet and would implement it in letter and spirit when received. Talking about launch of the KCR project within 30 days as directed by SC, the chief minister said the federal government was reluctant to hand over the right of way to the provincial government for the KCR. “In 2016, I had written a letter to the prime minister with the request to issue directives for handing over the Right Of Way (ROW) for KCR and then kept making similar requests repeatedly but all of them fell flat on the deaf ears,” he said. In such circumstances, how is it possible to start the project, he asked?

Replying to a question, he said that whenever he and his leadership raised their voice against the federal government’s failure in achieving their revenue collection targets, the federal ministers started singing their tuned song that they would not give NRO to the opposition leaders. “Who asked them for an NRO?” he asked. “We are just reminding you (the federal government) to improve your efficiency and achieve your revenue targets. Provinces are facing financial hardships due to your inefficiency,” he said.

To a question about 70 percent illegal constructions in the city, Shah said that these illegal buildings were not built in last 10 years. “There should have been a survey of such buildings and their occupants so that alternative arrangements can be made before taking any action,” he said. Replying to a question about the Sindh governor, the chief minister said he had a good working relationship with him. “The governor has a constitutional role and there will be no issue if he plays his specified role,” he said.

Shah said the federal government had failed to deliver therefore unrest was visible everywhere in the society. “Not a single person in the country is happy and content with the policies of the federal government. Everyone is reeling under the burden of price hike and inflation,” he said.

Talking about disappearance of wheat from storehouses, the chief minister said that Anti-Corruption Establishment and NAB have started taking action. “Whosoever has stolen wheat will face the consequences,” he said.

INAUGURATION: Earlier, the chief minister formally inaugurated the Sindh Building Control Authority’s Single Window facility – eConstruct-Online construction permit approval system by pressing the key of the computer at SBCA office. He visited different automated system established at SBCA and was briefed by the concerned officers.

Latter, addressing the inauguration ceremony which was organised at a local hotel, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that happy to see, in person, the dream of a more prosperous and business-savvy Sindh materialises, one step at a time, one reform at a time. “This important milestone achievement which is the launch of Sindh Building Control Authority’s “Single Window Facility and eConstruct-Online Construction Permit Approval System is not just a step but a leap in the right direction,” he said.

He congratulated SBCA for introducing this technologically advanced platform for quicker procedures in order to assist citizens to acquire construction permits. “Our aim remains to serve citizens in order to make businesses grow faster, and, most importantly, drive entrepreneurship in Sindh,” he said.

Shah said that his government stood 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.

Murad Shah said that World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report was a salient index with economic and political consequences. “On the economic side, the Doing Business report has become one of the most important indicators for companies choosing countries to invest in,” he said and added “On the political side, it is an index on which countries compete, and against which success of governments is measured.” He said that there was enough evidence to show that FDI inflows were higher for economies performing better on the Doing Business Index.

Shah said that after dropping for almost a decade, Pakistan’s ranking on this report improved by 11 points last year. Sindh played an important role in turning the page as Karachi carries 65 percent weight in Pakistan’s ranking, while Lahore’s weightage is 35 percent. He added the Sindh Government has implemented a number of reforms for ease of doing business and various departments have made an effort to implement these reforms and also to communicate them to beneficiaries and citizens.

Welcoming the World Bank’s support in the reform process across departments, the chief minister said they [WB] have guided us efficiently in prioritizing and implementing reforms and helped us build capacity of our departments.

It may be noted that the time required to get the permits has been drastically reduced. One can now get Construction Permits in 30 instead of 60 days, and Completion Certificates in 30 instead of 45 days. SBCA has also exempted three NOCs and reduced procedures to get construction permits from 15 to just seven.

Shah said, “We live in an era of digitization, and the litmus test for ease of doing business remains how well technology has been harnessed to make investment and trade easier.” He added “when we invite investment, it is imperative that the processes move beyond the traditional hard copy-based procedures, and that the ease of doing business is made click-friendly with the help of information technology.”

The art facility - a Single Window Facility for Automation of Construction Permits, and Online Submission of Application for Ease of General Public – is something that a year or two ago would have been a distant illusion but today it is a reality.

It help strengthen institutional co-ordination among local government agencies and the private sector, but will also give some exciting facilities like Online submission of plan through eConstruct; Online Fee Payment is also provided through ePay; Once submitted Owner can track his file through eTrac and notification will be sent through email and SMS service; Online Registration of Professionals Builders & Developers / Geo Technical Labs will be done through eRegister. Based on the latest technology all these facilities can be availed through SBCA Smart Mobile App.

One of the most important indicators out of the 10 indicators measured on this index is “Dealing with Construction Permits” and in Sindh this comes under Sindh Building Control Authority. From 141 in 2018, this indicator went down to 156 in 2019 in the DB index ranking. Realizing the importance of improving ease of doing business in this indicator, SBCA and the Sindh government are working at an accelerated pace, and are introducing reforms to achieve this goal.

The Online system will electronically communicate with the Land-Owning Authorities for Land Title re-verification. Citizen Complaint will ensure that all complaints regarding Single Window Facility are addressed timely.

Shah appreciated Project Director Kazi Kabir and team of Karachi Neighbourhood Improvement Project for completing SBCA Single Window Facility in record three months. The KNIP interventions in Saddar are on going on fast track and sub-projects in Malir and Korangi are likely to start in a month’s time. The KNIP is improving public spaces keeping in consideration the standard environment and social guidelines by World Bank.

Those who spoke on the occasion include Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Chairperson P&D Naheed Shah, PD of the project Kazi Kabir, DG SBCA Iftikhar Qaimkhani, World Bank acting Country Director Melinda Good and others.