KARACHI, Feb 9: As against small traders’ claim that some 30,000 businessmen have shifted to the Punjab due to disappointing law and order situation in Karachi, industrialists representatives said that some major units have relocated to other countries, rather than shifting to the Punjab.

They said that businessmen and industrialists were shifting mainly to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka or were exploring options to set up their businesses in Vietnam or other African countries.

Some of them showed anxiety over future survival of businesses in Karachi owing to rising incidents of kidnappings for ransom, strikes, forced closures, and government’s apathy to curb rising street crimes as well as to check extortion mafia. Industrialists did not quote any specific names of their members because of business secrets, but said Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have so far been the favourite destinations for businessmen.

“Without giving the name, I can confirm that five to six big exporters have expanded their businesses in some foreign countries besides setting up units,” said F.B. Area Association of Trade and Industry (FBATI) chairman Haroon Shamsi.

He said that businessmen are also exploring African countries.

He, however, added that small traders have definitely moved to the Punjab but not industrialists.

He said small industrialists are definitely perturbed.

For instance, 20 power-loom factories closed down in the area during the last two years while 250-300 units of power-looms were sold out.

North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry (NKATI) Chairman Syed Iqtida Ali said that out of 2,000 industrial units in the area, only four to five per cent of the big units or exporters moved to various countries during the last two years to boost their business. He said hardly any industrialist had moved to the Punjab during the same period.

Site Association of Industry’s senior vice chairman Nasim Anwar said not only the industrialists were moving abroad, some 15 to 20 units have shifted to Nooriabad during the last one-and-a-half years.

He confirmed that no industrial unit from Site area had shifted to Punjab.

He said that definitely traders and estate agents of Karachi have shifted to the Punjab.

Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) chairman Zubair Chahya said: “I do not think our members have taken their units to the Punjab or some other province, but they are gradually expanding their businesses in the Far-East, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.”

He said some industrialists have opened trading houses and had been exploring industrial setups after losing hope for any betterment in the law and order situation in Karachi.

However, some industrialists have definitely closed down their units.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Haroon Agar offered a different view, saying that incentives in other countries are luring Pakistani businessmen to set up their businesses abroad.

He said all categories of businessmen are moving abroad as some of them have permanently shut their units in the mega city while some have converted their units to warehouses or have rented them out.

Some major exporters have expanded their businesses in other countries.

He was of the view that local businessmen are avoiding relocating their businesses in Malaysia due to high labour charges. They prefer Bangladesh over Malaysia.

He said that out of 15,000 to 20,000 small to large units in Karachi, some five to 10 per cent big units or exporters of textiles have moved to foreign destinations.

Rejecting the stance of All-Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) that some 30,000 traders have shifted to Punjab, especially Lahore, KCCI President Haroon Agar said that the figure would not be even 300.

AKTI President Atiq Mir said that out of 30,000 traders and industrialists, over 15,000 traders have shifted their focus to Punjab while some 5,000 to 6,000 traders completely closed down their businesses during the last three years.

He, however, said that some four to five per cent industrialists and exporters have moved to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, the Middle East and Saudi Arabia.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Vice President Mian Abu Zar Shad said that traders from Karachi and other parts of Sindh are settling in Lahore after packing up their business.

He said that some industrialists have also shown interest, and the LCCI has enrolled around 2,000 new members during the last few months.

Due to rising number of migrations from Karachi, he claimed that property prices in Lahore have increased by 20 per cent.

When asked that Punjab was already hit by the energy crisis, he said at least peace and working environment exists here.

Mohammad Mobin Malik of Auto Parts Market at Neela Gumbad (Mall Road Lahore) said: “Not only from Karachi, traders from Quetta are also coming to Lahore.”

He said that property prices in DHA Lahore have increased as some traders are aspiring to settle in Lahore.

He said many traders have arrived from Karachi in Badami Bagh area.

All-Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran General Secretary Naeem Mir told Dawn from Lahore that he did not see relocation of businesses from Karachi to Lahore. However, some industrialists have entered, but they are worried over gas crisis.

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