By Syed M. Aslam
Dec 13 - 19, 1999
Bashir Miandad is the Central chairman of Pakistan Small Chamber of
Commerce and Cottage Industry. He is also the vice chairman of Federation of Pakistan
Chambers of Commerce and Industrys standing committee of Social Welfare and Youth
Affairs (FPCCI). He is the elder brother of Pakistani cricket legend Javed Miandad and
eldest of five sons of late Miandad Noor Muhammad the Secretary of prestigious Sir
Abdullah Haroon Muslim Gymkhana Karachi for 26 years.
Eldest of five brothers, Javed being the third, Bashir in his own
rights was a seasoned cricket player who played Ayub Trophy in the late 1960s. He is a
senior vice chairman of Pakistan Coconut Plantation Society, an organisation which
promotes commercial plantation of coconut trees in the coastal belts of Pakistan. He is
also the chief patron on a number of organisations including Pakistan Human Rights
Association and Pakistan Small Steel Iron Market Association.
PAGE talked to Bashir Miandad. The following
are the excerpts.
PAGE: What are the primary objectives of Pakistan
Small Chamber of Commerce and Cottage Industry?
Bashir Miandad: As you know the unorganised sector
plays an important role in the economy of Pakistan. Unfortunately, despite its importance
it has failed to attract the due attention which it deserves from the policy makers. We
aim to provide a forum to discuss the various problems faced by the unorganised sector. In
addition, the forum provides us an opportunity to highlight these problems so that they
get the due attention from the policy makers.
PAGE: You are the senior vice chairman of Pakistan
Coconut Plantation Society. What are its primary objectives?
While coconut plantation is not an
unknown phenomenon in Pakistan what it does lack is the absence of plantation on
commercial lines. While coconut plantation is being encouraged and plants are being
imported from Malaysia and Sri Lanka, the bulk of these are used in the residential
gardening. We aim to encourage commercial coconut plantation particularly along the
coastal areas of Sindh, and also Balochistan, to help reduce the import bill on edible oil
from the foreign sources. We have a favourable weather as well as vast areas of land for
the purpose and the concept of commercial plantation has yet not taken a root. We aim to
promote the need for commercial coconut plantation for the overall benefit of the economy.
PAGE: You are the central chairman of PSCCI, senior
vice president (central) of All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran, chairman and participating
member of Karachi sports goods market association as well as chief patron of five other
organisations. How do you manage to find time for all these activities?
I manage to find time for all my
diversified activities. I primarily attribute it to years of association with cricket
since my childhood which has inculcated in me a discipline with regard to time. I
dont sleep for over six hours during the night and it is impossible for me to fall
asleep during the day. Basically it's the sense of priority which helps me find time for
all these self-chosen responsibilities.
PAGE: What are your views on the imposition of the GST
on the retail level?
Personally, I feel that GST is a good
system as it is the first step towards documenting such as undocumented economy as ours.
However, the fact that it requires a certain amount of education which the majority of our
traders lack means that it should be imposed in phases. Secondly, it is imperative to
abolish the widespread smuggling for a meaningful implementation of the GST as many of the
traders and retailers resist it so as not to have their trade documented.
PAGE: Do you have any suggestions?
Bashir Miandad: Yes. The government should altogether
abolish the wealth tax to encourage circulation of vast amount of some Rs 150-200 billion
which thus far is in circulation in the form of black money without playing any meaningful
role in the economy. The government can impose a one-time 3 per cent tax on the
declaration of such money with no questions asked for the overall benefit of the economy.
Secondly, the government should give a fixed deadline, a three month period would be good,
to the traders and retailers to stop trading in smuggled items. Once the grace period is
over, it should take a stern action of the illegal trade to show that the menace of
smuggling would no longer be tolerated.
PAGE: What else do you suggest?
Bashir Miandad: The important role that the
unorganised sector plays in developing countries like Pakistan could hardly be
over-emphasised. The banks should be made to provide loans to the small-scale industries
and the industries in the organised sector should also be made to agree to buy their raw
materials, where available, to give a helping hand to the local small scale industry. The
loans do not have to be in the form of cash necessarily but it could be in the form of raw
materials as well as the machinery. It is imperative to establish cottage processing zones
in the country and the government should also establish trading houses to help the small
entreprenuers sell their products.