Doing Business reforms
The state of the construction sector is a critical indicator of the dynamism of an economy. An abundance of stalled construction projects is a visible sign of economic hardship, while a booming construction industry is indicative of economic growth. Although some obstacles—including the fragmented nature of the construction sector and its resistance to technological change—depend on the private sector adapting to industry changes, governments around the world can focus on implementing public policy reforms that reduce the time and cost to obtain permission to build, as well as improve construction quality standards. In 2018/19, 21 of the 37 economies reforming aspects of dealing with construction permits simplified the permitting process by streamlining interactions with agencies for pre-approvals and inspections. Another 16 reformed their building quality control systems. In addition, 12 economies either set up or improved online platforms for processing building permits, while three economies launched one-stop shops.
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest number of economies undertaking building permitting reforms - 12. Most improvements are directed towards enforcing adequate building quality controls. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia improved professional qualification requirements for architects and engineers. Eswatini, Kenya, Togo and Zimbabwe enhanced transparency of obtaining a building permit by making requirements publicly available online.
In 2018/19, Bahrain has achieved a noteworthy improvement in the process of obtaining a construction permit. The Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning streamlined the application process through the new Benayat online platform. The new system delegates application review processes to private engineering firms, reducing the number of procedures and the time to obtain a permit. In the Middle Eastern and North Africa region, Kuwait and Morocco have also further enhanced their online application platforms. In these countries, builders can now apply and obtain construction permits electronically. In addition, following international good practices, the United Arab Emirates introduced risk-based approvals for inspection.
In South Asia, Pakistan improved operational efficiency of the one-stop shop for construction permitting in Lahore. The Sindh Building and Control Authority in Karachi has also strengthened building quality controls by enforcing the implementation of mandatory inspections. As a result, the number of days to complete all the construction permitting procedures reduced by 127 days in Karachi and by 175 in Lahore. Neighboring India continued an active reform momentum for the third subsequent year. The main improvements include enhancements to the online process of issuing building permits as well as an introduction of electronic clearances from Fire and Hydraulic departments . Similarly, Nepal enhanced its e-permitting platform by clarifying pre-approval requirements and making application forms available for download.
In Southeast Asia, Singapore and Hong-Kong both improved their building quality control processes by introducing clear rules for risk-based inspections. This approach allows the two countries to mandate inspections based on buildings’ risk category and use type.
In Europe and Central Asia, Moldova made dealing with construction permits easier by enabling quality control by private supervising engineers and by no longer requiring clearances from health and environmental agencies for low-risk structures. In Armenia, engineers and architects need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, two or five years of work experience, and pass qualification examination to perform any type of architectural or construction-related activity.
Reforms implemented in 2018/19 are available here.