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Sindh can’t revive KCR until Centre gives right of way, says Murad

Karachi

May 12, 2019


Sindh’s chief minister has said the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) can be revived only after the federal government agrees to hand over the right of way to the provincial administration.

CM Syed Murad Ali Shah said this on Saturday while talking to the media after inaugurating the automated single-window facility for the automation of construction permits in the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) under the Ease of Doing Business.

The chief executive was accompanied by Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Planning & Development Chairperson Naheed Shah, Home Secretary Kazi Kabir, SBCA Director General Iftikhar Qaimkhani and others.

The CM said he has not yet received the order of the Supreme Court regarding the removal of encroachments from Karachi, adding that he will implement the order in letter and spirit when it is received.

Talking about the launch of the KCR within 30 days as directed by the SC, he said the federal government is reluctant to hand over the right of way to the provincial administration.

“In 2016 I had written to the prime minister with the request to order handing over the right of way for the KCR, and then kept making similar requests, but all of them fell on deaf ears,” he said, asking how it will be possible to start the project in these circumstances.

Replying to a question, he said that whenever he or his party leadership raise a voice against the Centre’s failure to achieve their revenue collection targets, the federal ministers start singing their song of “we will not give NRO to the opposition”.

“Who has asked them for an NRO?” he said, adding that the Sindh government is reminding the federal administration to improve their efficiency and achieve their revenue targets, as the provinces are facing financial hardships due to the Centre’s inefficiency.

To a query about 70 per cent illegal constructions in the city, Shah said that these illegal buildings have not been built in the past decade. “There should have been a survey of such buildings and their occupants so that alternative arrangements could be made before taking any action.”

Responding to a question about the governor, the CM said they have a good working relationship. “The governor has a constitutional role, and if he works within his specified role, there will be no issue.”

He said the federal government has failed to deliver and that is why unrest is visible everywhere in society. “Not a single person in the country is happy and content with the policies of the federal administration. Everyone is being ground under the burden of price hike and inflation.”

Talking about the disappearance of wheat from warehouses, the CM said the anti-corruption authorities and the National Accountability Bureau have started taking action. “Whoever has stolen the wheat will face the consequences.”

Inauguration

The chief executive earlier inaugurated the launch of the SBCA’s single-window facility by pressing the key of the computer at the authority’s office. He visited different automated systems established there and was briefed by the relevant officers.

Later, addressing the inauguration ceremony organised at a hotel, he said he was happy to see in person the dream of a more prosperous and business-savvy Sindh being materialised, one step at a time, one reform at a time. “This important milestone achievement is not just a step but a leap in the right direction.”

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

Shah said his government is fully resolved to undertake more reforms and adopt policies that create an enabling environment for the private sector and make doing business in the province easy.

He said the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report is a salient index with economic and political consequences. “On the economic side, the report has become one of the most important indicators for companies choosing countries to invest in. On the political side, it is an index on which countries compete, and against which success of governments is measured.”

He also said that there is enough evidence to show that the FDI inflows are higher for economies performing better on the Doing Business Index, adding 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 per cent of the weight in Pakistan’s ranking, while Lahore’s weight is 35 per cent.”

The CM said 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 as well as to communicate them to the beneficiaries and citizens.

Welcoming the WB’s support in the reform process across departments, the CM said the organisation has guided us efficiently in prioritising and implementing reforms as well as helped us build capacity of our departments.

Ease of doing business

The time required to get construction permits has been drastically reduced. One can now get construction permits in 30 days instead of 60, and completion certificates in 30 days instead of 45. The 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 digitisation, 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 ease of doing business is made click-friendly with the help of information technology.”

The state-of-the-art facility — a single-window facility for the automation of construction permits, and online submission of application for the 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 will help strengthen institutional coordination 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 provided through ePay. Once submitted, a land owner can track his file through eTrack and notification will be sent through email and SMS service.

Online registration of professionals, builders and developers, and geo technical labs will be done through eRegister. Based on the latest technology, all these facilities can be availed through SBCA Smart Mobile App.

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