KARACHI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa assured full support to industrialists and businessmen in resolving various issues besides urging them to set up more industries and enhance exports.
City’s businessmen met with the COAS at the Corps Headquarters in Karachi on Wednesday.
In the meeting, which lasted two-and-a-half hours, Gen Bajwa was apprised about the post-rain suspension in production activities, damaged infrastructure, dilapidated road conditions and accumulated water in many industries.
The businessmen took up various issues including the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC), high cost of land in Karachi, problems in exports and production activities as well as lack of industrialisation.
Gen Bajwa asked the industrialists to send a one-page proposal on the GIDC issue so that he could discuss this at length with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
According to the businessmen, the COAS said the PM is very keen to see exports and local trade thriving and always talks with him how to boost industrial and export activities. He said he would take all the issues and concerns of businessmen with the prime minister which are hampering the pace of trade and industries.
The COAS was of the view that there should be a level playing field for all the stakeholders of trade and industries to work smoothly.
President Site Suleman Chawla pointed out that the industrial land price in Karachi’s Site and Korangi industrial areas ranged between Rs40-50 million as compared to Rs9m per acre in Faisalabad.
On the issue of K-Electric’s loadshedding, the businessmen suggested that there should be three utility companies in Karachi instead of one for uninterrupted power distribution in the city.
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain said the COAS stressed that “issues of Karachi would be resolved and Karachi would be transformed into a modern city within three years.”
The Army chief said a committee comprising representatives of federal and provincial governments have been set up to resolve issues on a fast-track basis. The business community will also get representation in the said committee.
Mian Zahid informed the COAS that rains have played havoc with the masses and business community and ports are not working properly to facilitate imports and exports.
He said that officials and labourers were not able to come to ports which have dented the business community and increased cost of doing business. He told the COAS that Karachi is contributing Rs2,600 billion to national exchequer while improvement can boost revenue to Rs4,000bn.
He said rains have stopped activities across Karachi while the port has been closed as staff and labourers cannot come for their jobs which have blocked imports and exports. He noted that exports are stuck since last 12 days and are adding to cost of doing business which can also reverse the trend of increasing exports for the last few months.
The value-added textile sector is suffering a lot as they were hopeful of betterment after some relaxation in virus-related lockdown in the west. The development can also reverse the steps by the government and central bank to boost the economy and increase exports while the agriculture sector has also faced problems due to torrential rains.
Mr Zahid said the National Disaster Management Authority has also disappointed people and the business community. The government must realise that national development is impossible unless the infrastructure and logistics system of Karachi is improved, he said. Heads of all the government institutions should be asked to resolve the issues of the city as they are duty-bound for it, he added.
Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2020