Kabul, Afghanistan has successfully introduced a simpler and more efficient construction permitting system, thanks to an innovative re-engineered business process implemented by the Policy and Management Consulting Group, which was under contract to The World Bank/International Finance Corporation.

In 2014, PMCG was contracted by the IFC to assist Kabul in improving its construction permitting processes.  PMCG faced some significant challenges, causing delays in issuing construction permits.  Major stumbling blocks initially encountered by PMCG’s consultants included: an ineffective legal and institutional framework, inconsistent classification of construction permits and buildings – and a lack of transparency and public engagement.

PMCG has worked with the Government of Afghanistan, at both central and municipal levels in Kabul.  For this project, the PMGG team studied the environment and issued recommendations on the following issues: reduction of timeframes and costs for each procedure; reduction of excessive interaction between government and private-sector representatives by introducing the one-stop shop principle in the process of issuing construction permits; introduction of an individual approach for each type of building/structure known as risk-based construction permitting; and ensuring compatibility between public, private and third-party interests.

In order to ensure sustainability, PMCG also developed process maps of the new construction permit process, a user manual and proposed legal changes for the process and a new organizational chart for the permit-issuing agency.

The introduction of the streamlined system contributes to a more transparent and simplified regulatory framework that plays a crucial role in creating a business-friendly environment.

In July 2016, the progress made by the project was noted at a ceremony attended by Kabul’s acting Mayor and other officials. “We are committed to creating the right enabling environment for the construction permit process and implementing the city’s development plans,” said, Abdullah Jan Habibzai, Kabul's acting mayor. “The project has also helped us develop the right legal and regulatory framework for permit processing and train our staff to deliver the best service possible,” he added.

Mohammad H. Qayoumi, senior advisor to Afghanistan's president, said: “About 80 percent of economic activities are carried out in cities and construction is a major part of the country’s economy. Simplifying the construction permit process will encourage investments in the sector. I hope other organizations follow the same path to simplifying complicated permit processes.”

Qayoumi continued: “Our goals with this project were to improve the investment climate and contribute to sustainable development in Afghanistan,” said Nadeem Siddiqui, IFC country manager for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “We are pleased that construction permit practices have been aligned with international best practices and we hope this lays a foundation for further reforms in the country,” he noted.

“Having a transparent, fair, predictable and simple business environment is key to the country’s economic and social well-being. Our collaboration with the Government of Afghanistan is an example of how the readiness and willingness of the government, as well as a clearly defined aim, can bring about the successful introduction of reform”, explained Temur Bolotashvili, PGMM senior consultant in the field of construction policy.

PMCG is an international development consulting company, specializing in policy advising, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, infrastructure development and corporate development. We have a proven track record of achievement in transitional and developing economies and in the regions of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa.