AHMED SHAIKH: MNA PRESIDENT KCCI
Jun 26 - Jul 02, 2000
Qaiser Ahmed Shaikh, businessman turned politician was elected as the
member of the National Assembly from NA-66 Chiniot, in 1997. Qaiser Shaikh, known for his
independent approach on political and economic issues maintained his identity at the floor
of the house of legislatures by leading a group of independent members of the assembly. He
emerged as an outstanding business leader when he was elected as the president of Karachi
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in 1987-88. Carrying a number of distinctions with
his illustrious career as a leader of the business community, Qaiser was elected as the
president of Aiwan-e-Tijarat-o-Sanat Hospital Trust in 1998-99. Having exposure on various
national and international occasions, he accompanied the President of Pakistan as one of
the members of his entourage to Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. He represented Pakistan
at the 7th General Assembly and 12th Executive Committee meeting of the Islamic Chambers
of Commerce in Cairo. He was one of the Pakistan delegates at the Investment Conference
held in Tokyo in 1992 which was attended by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Currently, he
is the Chief Executive of Qaiser Brothers (Pvt.) Ltd and a number of other business and
PAGE: How do you see the government's efforts in
presenting the recent budget.
QAISER: It is a balanced budget, which has taken
special care of the low-income group. The provision of distributing Rs2000/- among the
poor families is a positive step besides reduction in income tax burden over the low
income group including salaried class and abolition of the Wealth Tax etc are the steps
which may produce some positive results. The abolition of Wealth Tax will help capital
formation which ultimately bring the hidden wealth into productive channels instead of
going to the dead business of real estate, he observed.
PAGE: As a political and business leader what are your
concerns about the budget.
QAISER: The CBR related revenue targets i.e. Rs442
billion for the current year is unrealistic and mostly based on assumptions. Citing the
example of revenue targets set by India for the current year, Qaiser said that with a
population size of around one billion people, India has set a target of Rs1700 billion
which comes to Rs1700 per person. As against that in Pakistan we have been given a target
of Rs442 billion against a population base of 140 million. That means every person has to
pay Rs3000, which seems unreasonable. On the other side keeping in view the stagnant
economic growth a 25.9 per cent increase in revenue target i.e. from Rs351 to Rs442
billion is again unrealistic and seems difficult to achieve in the given circumstances.
Since the poverty reduction programme in the budget for which Rs21 billion have been
allocated looks hard to be achieved as it has been tied up with the realization of the
PAGE: Are you in favour of documentation of the
QAISER: Certainly I am. Without documentation no
business can achieve its height. Since it helps both the taxpayer as well as the economy,
it is being practiced elsewhere in the world. Documentation of the economy opens various
avenues for the enterprise such as access to the bank for working capital, participation
in national projects and also to enter into joint venture projects.
PAGE: Why the business community was opposing the tax
survey launched by the government, which is aimed at documentation of the economy?.
QAISER: In fact, the survey was conducted in a crude
way, a case of mishandling and lack of home work on the part of agencies responsible for
conducting the survey. The march of the survey teams accompanied by men in uniform
unleashed a panic among the shopkeepers not used to of such a situation. The departments
responsible for tax collection must have completed their home work before conducting the
survey. They must have the correct information that who is paying the tax and who is not.
They have a complete record of those who are paying the tax. Instead of sending the survey
teams, notices should have been issued to those not paying the tax. A sophisticated and
scientific method could avert creating a situation such as shutter down protest etc and
appearing of headlines in the newspapers.
PAGE: Your suggestions for overcoming the economic
crisis in Pakistan.
QAISER: People both in India and Pakistan is the
victim of the strained border relations. The non-development expenditures have deprived
the people of economic prosperity and growth in the two countries. The bone of contention
i.e. Kashmir issue should be resolved at the earliest to save the economy from the burden
of non-development expenditures which seems to be key for relief to the common man. He
said that 35 million people were living below poverty line in 1980, which reduced to 25
million in 1988. This dropping graph could not be maintained due to ever increasing
non-development expenditures and the number of people living below the poverty line will
again increase in Pakistan from 25 million in 1988 to 44 million in 2000 reflecting the
real economic health of our people, he remarked.