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Digital One Window Portal launched by SBCA to facilitate builders and developers By: Khurram Zia Khan

 This portal will remove hassles and speed up the process of acquiring required documents for new projects 

To revive a struggling economy, the Government of Pakistan identified that operating the construction sector is possible without violating the global SOPs set by WHO to prevent spread of this pandemic.

The Government of Pakistan unveiled an attractive package with the aim to put the country’s economy on the path of recovery.

The provincial government of Sindh also realized the importance of this sector and through its Doing Business Reforms Initiative Unit (DBRIU), established in Sindh Investment Department, has carried out a holistic reform program to faciliate the housing and construction Industry in Karachi by bringing transparency, efficiency and reducing cost of doing business.

The unit will coordinate with all the government functionaries, private sector organizations, and all other related business stakeholders so that anyone who wants to start or run a business in Sindh, can easily get licences, permits and other relevant permissions for starting or running a business in the province.

The Sindh government, in cooperation with the World Bank, is actively working on the ease of doing business (EoDB) reforms programme. In an effort to facilitate business community, the Doing Business Reform Implementation Unit (DBRIU) launched a digital one window online portal in the mid of September. Furthermore, an online portal for approval of all Building Plans is also unveiled. Through this portal, Online system of Building Plan Approvals, Integrated Land Title Verification, Waiver of Utility NOC for Individual Homes, Commercial & Public Sale Projects, Integrated Utility NOC verification for Development Housing Schemes, Live tracking with sms/email alerts, E-Payment of SBCA fee via ABL’s ATM/Internet Banking and OTC channels, and Vetting of Building Plans by top-notch Firms will be done without wasting time. To facilitate the visitors, Public Facilitation Desk will be set up at SBCA’s office in Karachi.

A state of the art data center will also be set up which and it will be connected with the offices of Builders/Developers. This will help the developers to monitor the progress of their documents and assist them in making viable future plans.

In the month of October, this portal will be made more viable by allowing consumers to pay SBCA’s fees using 1 Link ATM or internet banking. Also people will not have to go to office again and again to collect documents instead their construction permit will be delivered to their homes in stipulated time frame via courier service.

This one window portal introduced by Doing Business Reform Implementation Unit (DBRIU) will give businessman an opportunity to carry out all the required activities online including title verification, application submission, and documents submission. Applicant will get system-generated challans which will help in avoiding any discrepancy while making payment to the department.

This recently launched online portal will reduce person-to-person contact and this will help in eradicating corruption. The work done digitally will continue smoothly and speed up the overall procedure of getting approvals. People can follow the status of their applications and they can give accurate schedule to their customers by conducting online monitoring. Upcoming entrepreneurs, in my view, will benefit immensely from this initiative.

The steps taken by Pakistan, like setting up DBRIU, introducing digitalization among others, will put Pakistan at par with the developing countries that decades ago started working on the phenomenon of providing ease in doing business. 

World Bank’s Ease of doing business index took twelve different factors in account while assigning the ranking to a country.

Although Pakistan has drawbacks in many indicators, but it is in obtaining construction permits, getting electricity, and getting property, that more work needs to be done to further improve Pakistan’s ranking in EODB ranking.

In an article published by Friedrich Naumann, it was highlighted that access to economic opportunities, lower transactions costs, and reduction in corruption, are the reasons for which a country requires Ease of Doing Business. 

Fortunately in last few years, Pakistan took serious measures for ease of doing business and as a result of these reforms, the country’s ranking witnessed a phenomenal improvement.

Sindh’s Secretary Investment, Syed Najam Ahmed Shah, while talking about the ease of doing business,  tweeted on 22nd of August said that 10 important reforms are introduced in 30 different organizations; as Karachi is the business hub which contributes 65% of the revenue to the government exchequer, majority of the organizations selected are from Karachi. After implementation of the reforms, Pakistan jumped 39 points to reach 78 in the world bank’s ease of doing business index released last year.

By evaluating the reforms situation carefully, I can safely say that if these reforms are initiated and implemented wholeheartedly, Pakistan’s construction industry can operate at it optimum and can open doors for the economy’s revival along with providing jobs to an unprecedented number of people.

Addressing a seminar titled "Opportunities in Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme" organised by Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) on 25th of September, Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority (NAPHDA) Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Anwar Ali Hyder said that banks will start offering loans for the scheme from next week. In the last seventy years, banks only provided housing loan equivalent to 0.23% of GDP.

Pakistan has acute shortage of houses and the deficiency of housing units is increasing rapidly due to unprecedented increase in country’s population.

As the scribe of this blog, I think that businessmen, by taking advantage of the reforms introduced by SBCA and the facilitation provided by relevant government agencies, can work diligently to promote Pakistan as a country on the path of progress.

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