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 Pakistan@100 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.