LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday organised an exhibition on ease of doing business, showcasing various efforts and reforms it claims to have introduced to improve and create an enabling environment for all those planning to invest in various fields.

Organised under the aegis of the planning and development department, the event brought all departments concerned under one roof to facilitate and make the local and international investors and businesspersons aware of swift official procedures required before start of any business activity.

“The government is very serious about the issue of creating an enabling environment for local as well as foreign investors planning to start various businesses in Punjab, as it believes that the private sector-led growth is the only way to generate employment for a huge number of youth entering the job market fast,” Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus-Pasha said while speaking on the occasion.

The exhibition was meant to communicate to the public and private sector about the reforms implemented under the Punjab government’s ‘ease of doing business’ project. For this matter, rather than following the conventional norm of setting up stalls, planning & development department displayed the reforms through pictorial and graphical images in a closed tunnel.

Dr Pasha said the Punjab government did a lot in easing of doing business by introducing 41 reforms and taking 75 actions. “The agenda for the ease of doing business is to simplify procedures, cut down costs and reduce time for operationalisation and conducting business in Punjab. These initiatives will encourage investors to establish their business entities thus allowing the domestic industry to flourish which will generate economic activities and eventually lead to export-led growth of the economy,” she explained.

The departments including the Municipal Corporation Lahore (MCL), Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Lahore High Court (LHC), Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT), Punjab Land Record Authority and Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) placed their stalls to facilitate the participants in the exhibition. They sought information on various procedures related to no objection certificates, dispute resolution, business permissions, approval of drawings/maps for building structures etc.

“Many people visited us and sought information regarding approval of maps for structures,” an official present at LDA stall told this reporter.

The reforms displayed were operationalisation of business registration portal which reduces time and cost as the need to visit multiple offices has been eliminated. In order to obtain a building permit, the number of days has been reduced from 60 to 20 days. Additionally, the NOC requirement from EPA has been waived off, the building by-laws have also been standardised between LDA and MCL and issuance of building permit from Town Hall. Furthermore, Punjab Land Records Authority has automated the procedures for property registration thereby reducing the number of procedures from seven to four squeezing time from 56 days to 18. A significant achievement has been eliminating the need to advertise transfer of property. This was possible only due to land plots records being digitalised. Lastly, enforcing contracts has been made easier as case management system has been introduced at LHC along with introduction of mediation centres for out-of-court settlement.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, P&D Chairman Jehanzeb Khan spoke about the commitment the Punjab government was fulfilling towards improving the business environment of the province by facilitating domestic and foreign businesses. “Creating conducive environment for attracting investors will create direct and indirect jobs consequently leading to economic activity,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2018