KARACHI     -    Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that Sindh is the most ur­banized province of Pakistan with Kara­chi, its capital city, being the country’s major financial and trade hub.

Addressing a 38-member delegation of Foreign Service Academy, consisting of diplomats from China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, here at the CM House on Monday, Murad said, “The province gen­erates over 60 percent of the country’s tax revenue; contributes a big chunk of oil and gas resources to the national economy, and it is also a power house of the country, having 175 billion tonnes of coal and a huge wind corridor that can generate 50,000 MWTs of electricity.”

The CM said that although Sindh was a resource rich province, overall poverty levels here were estimated to be around 43 percent; with 75.5 percent only in ru­ral areas.

He said that Sindh required 6 to 7 per­cent annual growth rate in order to be able to create 600,000 plus jobs in the private sector every year. “Public expen­ditures and investments are expected to be the major drivers for growth in the province and the country,” he said.

Talking about the `Ease of Doing Busi­ness (EDB)’, the chief minister said that was an index published by the World Bank every year at the end of October. “It is an aggregate of different parameters which define the ease of doing business in a country,” Murad said, and added that the EDB report in 2019 had placed Paki­stan at 136th position, out of 190 coun­tries, which was an improvement by 11 positions as the country was at 147th position in 2018.

He said that his government had worked on reforming the regulatory atmosphere for Ease of Doing Busi­ness in order to enhance the ranking of Pakistan. “Karachi has 65 percent share in the ranking whereas Lahore’s share stands at 35 percent,” he explained.

Talking about improving business cli­mate in the province, Murad said that the Sindh government had made dedicated efforts in this regard. “SEPA has reduced Environmental checklists process from 30 to 15 days; the KWSB has reduced time for commercial connections from 61 to 21 days; SBCA has reduced time for granting construction permits from 60 to 30 days, while the time required for registering property in Karachi has been cut short from 208 days to 17 days –a 92 percent reduction,” he informed.

Sindh Business Registration Portal with links to four provincial depart­ments: Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution (SESSI), Labour and Excise & Taxation (E&T) and Federal depart­ments (FBR, NADRA, SECP) for swift business registration has been estab­lished in Investment Dept, he said.

He said that the major challenges in­cluded high number of out- of-school children (6.4 million) which constituted 40 percent. Murad said that his gov­ernment has invested Rs44.2 billion in school education in the last 5 years. “530 school buildings have been rehabilitat­ed; approximately 519 new school units have been established, 482 primary schools have been upgraded to middle/high schools,” he elaborated.

The CM said that 25 new universities were built under the public sector, while four university colleges for engineering & technology were also built.

Talking about law & order situation, the CM said that now the city had be­come one of the peaceful cities of the region. “This peace has been achieved after huge sacrifices rendered by the personnel of law-enforcement agen­cies,” Murad acknowledged.

The chief minister said that the bud­get for 2019-20 was Rs1.2 trillion. “The provincial Annual Development Pro­gramme (ADP) outlay is Rs228 billion,” he informed.

The chief minister said that peace in the region was linked to peace in Af­ghanistan. “Peace in Afghanistan will usher in a new era of prosperity in the entire region,” he hoped.