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Govt’s online single window system is geared towards Ease of Doing Business

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By Shashi P Goyal
& Avinash Kumar 

Aspiring for growth is imperative for any nation, not only for its survival, but also to fulfill the creative and aspirational instincts of its population. Uttar Pradesh, if it were a country would (in terms of population) be the fifth largest country in the world.

India has been showing a constant upward trend in World Bank's "Doing Business" rankings and now stands at 77th position out of 190 countries; this upward trend was made possible because of standardised, competitive and phased implementation of the "Business Reform Action Plan" guidelines issued yearly by the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP), since 2015. Uttar Pradesh, which was at 14th spot in 2016, has moved two ranks up, to the 12th place in Ease of Doing Business rankings 2017-18 released by the DIPP. This upward trend can only be sustained by reducing "time to market" for any business activity and that can be ensured by a seamless, scalable, process re-engineered and technologically advanced online single window government clearance/licensing system, that is free from red-tapism and other bureaucratic inconsistencies.

To overcome these challenges, UP, among other things, needs a low-cost system for service delivery, which can provide the desired output by scaling up the capability of the existing manpower without actually increasing their numbers.

To make such a system work, one will have to understand the deep inconsistencies and inefficiencies that exist in the current licensing mechanism of any government department. Just to highlight the problem, an entrepreneur has to take clearances from minimum seven to eight departments, i.e., revenue, stamps and registration, labour, fire, local bodies, environment, electricity, public works, housing or urban development before the unit could actually start. The time for application and follow-up with each department requires running from pillar to post, and sometimes obliging such authorities with corrupt practices. This vicious cycle leads to a loss in employment generation.

The challenges of implementing such a system in a state like UP were immense. In order to counter the challenges, a working group headed by the principal secretary to the chief minister having members from all concerned line department was constituted (December, 2017) at the CM Office. The expert team analysed the BRAP guidelines and came up with an innovative principal methodology of "why you are doing, what you are doing" for validating the existing processes of departments and came out with the standardised service process guidelines. All identified services of departments were then taken online.

'Nivesh Mitra', the online single window system has been designed after performing a thorough stakeholder feedback to create a complete packaged solution for the industries and more importantly, the MSMEs. It supports all the 26 features as listed in the BRAP guidelines.

> Application submission, online payment, tracking & monitoring of submitted applications, approvals, and approval certificates/NOCs are made completely online, without human interference.
> Consolidated payment for all submitted applications.
> Information wizard to suggest required pre-establishment & pre-operation applications.
> All information available at one place through the investor kit.
> List of NOCs/ licenses/ permits.
> Effective monitoring of application pendency at all levels via a unified dashboard.
> Faster redressal via ticket-based industrial grievances mechanism
> Dedicated platform for industrial associations for providing feedback on industrial issues
> Facility for submitting suggestions / feedback on draft policies, other business regulations etc.
> Facility for third parties like banks/ other private & government institutions to verify NOCs/licenses online.

'Nivesh Mitra' currently encapsulates 118 services of 20 departments including the most important services like the pollution control board, electrical Safety, fire safety, land allotment, land-use change, labour department clearances.

'Nivesh Mitra' was first backed with a detailed government order that legalised the standard process, timelines and fixed accountabilities of the departments. Second, a detailed training program was launched in order to train the field staff of all departments and for resolving any of their queries related to the new process. Third, industrial organisations and their members were given demonstrations and trainings at the district level Udyog Bandhu meetings. Fourth, a helpline number was launched, which was manned by a trained dedicated team for providing support to the industrial grievances and to provide assistance in case any investor is facing any difficulty. Fifth, all grievances are monitored on a daily basis and quick response along with resolution to the problem is provided to all applicants.

Since its launch by the PM, Nivesh Mitra has granted over 50,000 NOC's/licenses within approved timelines to about 49,000 registered entrepreneurs who had applied; only 0.02% applications are pending beyond the allowed time limit. In itsEoDB rankings 2017-18, Uttar Pradesh's 'Nivesh Mitra' was rated among the top 5 online single window systems by the DIPP. One major reform in pipeline is to create a single window agency backed by an Act, which will have the power to grant a single certificate instead of multiple departmental NOC, required for starting any business. Also, a sectoral analysis is currently under process to identify services, which are yet to be made online for example: getting industrial land exemptions from the Ceiling Act and many more.

Goyal is Principal Secretary to CM Uttar Pradesh and Kumar is Special Secretary to CM Uttar Pradesh. Views are personal