Sindh introduces reforms to climb up the Ease of Doing Business ladder

Syed Murad Ali Shah, chief minister of Sindh, Abdul Razzak Dawood, Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment and Illango Patchamuthu, Country Director, World Bank launch Sindh Business Registration Portal. (Photo courtesy SID).
Updated 20 February 2019

Sindh introduces reforms to climb up the Ease of Doing Business ladder

  • Launches online registration portal to facilitate investors
  • Aims for Pakistan to be in the list of top 25 economies across the world by 2047

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Sindh province launched an online registration portal on Wednesday with an aim to improve the country's global ranking in terms of its ease of doing business.

The Sindh Business Registration Portal (SBRP) is part of reforms to ensure Pakistan's position is less than 100 in the global index. 

In the World Bank’s Doing Business Index issued last year, Pakistan had improved its position by 11 notches --from 147 to 136 -- out of 190 countries. The Sindh province plays an important role in facilitating the process as the port city of Karachi represents 65 percent of the country's business  community, followed by Lahore at 35 percent. 

“We have determination and a keen focus on improving the ease of doing business. The prime minister has given a target to come 100 or below for this year. The time is running out and we have only a couple of months left as the World Bank will start its evaluation in April," Abdul Razzak Dawood, Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, said. 

“We are well on our way to come under 100," he added while highlighting the three areas where the country needs to improve. These include “taxation, giving permit for construction and property registration and getting electricity connections”.

Stressing on the need for the implementation of key policies, Dawood said the “ease of doing business is one of the most discussed topics wherever I go”.

The World Bank, for its part, has been providing technical support to the Sindh government for the implementation and facilitation of the reforms. The province has also had the support of the Department for International Development (DFID), in the UK.

“Pakistan now needs to move towards one single integrated market in which businesses [irrespective of whether] they operate from Karachi or Peshawar...can operate across the country without worrying about registering in Sindh or registering in Punjab or KP. This makes Pakistan the perfect location for local and foreign investments,” Illango Patchamuthu, Country Director, World Bank, said.  

He added that it was critical for the on-going momentum to be sustained in order to help Pakistan become a competitive and business-friendly investment destination. "The reforms are prominently featured in the [email protected] initiative which aims for the country to be in the top 25 economies globally by 2047," Patchamuthu said. 

Speaking at the occasion, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the Ease of Doing Business report was an important measure with economic and political consequences, and that the index had become one of the most important indicators for companies to choose which countries to invest in.

“Through this portal, the business community can complete the registration process for four different departments... We intend to include all provincial departments,” Murad said.

The SBRP will ensure businesses are able to register swiftly by providing access to a slew of online services, in addition to cutting down the cost, time and effort of visiting multiple government departments for the purpose. The portal will also link the four provincial and federal departments for a smoother and faster registration process.

Furthermore, the Punjab Information Technology Board has extended its technical support to the government of Sindh for designing, testing and launching the portal, in addition to training relevant departments to effectively use it to facilitate private sector investments.

In a first, Karachi madrassa offers business management course to its students

Updated 24 March 2019

In a first, Karachi madrassa offers business management course to its students

  • One year diploma in business management will prepare students for corporate sector
  • Result oriented teaching of modern subjects will attract other seminaries to follow suit, experts say

KARACHI: A leading religious school in Pakistan's port-side city of Karachi has announced to offer one-year diploma in business management for graduates and final-year students of seminaries, which experts say, will set a trend for other seminaries to open up to modern education.

“Hira Institute of Emerging Science (HIES) Darul Uloom Karachi in collaboration with Pakistan Institute of Management (PIM) is launching one-year Diploma in Business Management,” Adeel Zeerak, PIM official told Arab News on Sunday.

He said the program, which the PIM aims to take to more seminaries in future, will train clergies passing out from various Madaris in worldly knowledge to increase “their employability in the corporate sector and to train them to become entrepreneurs”.

“There were many fields identified during the designing of this diploma, where such Ulema [religious scholars] can contribute in the business world,” the official said, adding that “lack of required modern education” was key focus when the seminary and PIM authorities were designing the course.

“So initially we have identified the areas where the madrasah students after getting proper education may excel,” he said. “They can either have their own start-ups or may find jobs in other sectors.”

PIM will have its faculty teach the madrasa’s students and train them in entrepreneurship, content creation, digital marketing, retail operations, tooling and machining, spare parts, livestock and office supplies. The official said that the students will also be able to find jobs at Corporate Sharia advisory position, sales and marketing including tele-sales, administration and HR departments, accounts department, purchasing and contract management, call centers , front desk and customer service, and supply chain functions like warehousing, and distribution and transportation. 

The enrollment criteria, he said, is merit based. “The admission will be granted to those clearing aptitude [test] and interview.”

The course will formally start after the month of Ramazan, however admission and orientation process will commence  from next week, Zeerak said. 

Dr Muhammad Imran Usmani, in-charge of the course and son of Mufti Taqi Usmani, told Arab News that the introductory session initially scheduled for March 26 at HIES, Darul Uloom Karachi, has been postponed and will be held next week.

There are more than 37,000 Islamic seminaries in Pakistan which cater to more than four million students. Out of these, nearly 30,000 Madaris are registered with all five madrassa boards. Darul Uloom Karachi, although a major modern seminary with thousands of enrollments, is only one of them.

Realizing the fact that the program might be too small for a major informal religious sector of education, the PIM official says that upon successful completion of the program his institution will take the project to other seminaries.

Zeerak says there had been resistance to the teaching of modern education. “But the successful completion of the program will increase its acceptability.”

Dr Amir Tauseen, former chairman of Madrassa Education Board, a government board formed by former military dictator Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf to regularize madarra education, says the program can be an excellent pilot project and will persuade others to follow suit.

“The successful completion of program will definitely make it a step towards reforms in madrasa education,” Tauseen told Arab News. However, unless and until the program becomes a policy of the Wafaq ul Madaris Al-Arabia, Pakistan, a Deobandi board which Darul Uloom is affiliated with, it cannot obtain the required results, he said.

“Once the board recognizes the program, it will make its status sustainable,” he said. “It’s, however, definitely a major step,” he admired.