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By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Sep 18 - 24, 2000

S.M.Inam, founder president, of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a prominent leader of business community in Pakistan. He is also the founder president of Pak-Japan Cooperation Committee, Sindh Anti T.B Association, Sindh Baseball Association, and Karachi Aero Club, Peacock Academy of Fine Arts and a number of other associations.

Having a multi-dimensional personality, Inam always remains in news owing to his active involvement in economic activities, despite having his responsibilities as the Chairman of the Professional (Pvt.) Ltd. WAME Representative Office Pakistan, he is the managing director of Pioneer Farms (Pvt.) Ltd. He is also the manager partner of Pioneer Automobile, Pioneer Automobiles Industries, Pioneer Friction, Pioneer Farms, Shaffisons and Shaffisons Motors.

Being a prominent business representative, he was the director of Pakistan-Turkey Business Council, Pakistan single Country Exhibition in Moscow 1991. He was the leader of Pakistan Student Delegation World Youth Festival at Vienna 1959. Led Pakistan trades delegation to Uzbekistan and Russia in 1992. He was the chairman of a number of standing committees constituted by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Inam carries a large number of feathers to his cap, which include 9 gold medals and a gold cup. He was decorated with gold medals for serving ailing humanity by Chief Minister NWFP 1964, another gold medal by governor of Sindh in appreciation of service to community development, Gold medal for Human Resource Development and for eradication of TB again by Sindh government in 1974 and 1980 respectively. Another gold by federal government for his social welfare services in 1984. He was the recipient of a series of gold medals in 1988, 1992, 1996 and lately in 1998 by different dignitaries for his services for community and ailing humanity.

Being a seasoned businessman he looks with a serious concerns over every growing economic problems of the country.

PAGE: What steps your insight suggests resolving financial and economic problems faced by Pakistan?

INAM: It is unfortunate that we always look rescheduling as the means for solution of the huge foreign debts. Headlines appear in newspapers whenever Pakistan succeeds in rescheduling of the debt payments or gets a fresh loan. As a matter of fact the rescheduling or grant of fresh loans are adding to our financial problems instead of resolving the issue. Steps should be taken for debt retirement instead of rescheduling the repayments.

PAGE: How we can retire our debts in the face of financial constraints and limited cash flow from external resources.

INAM: Pakistanis living abroad are greatly concerned with the economic problems faced by the country. It may be a disclosure to many of us that non-resident Pakistanis living in USA, UK and Canada have formed three groups and have offered to sell at least $20 billion to the government of Pakistan. They have also offered to invest the entire amount they will get against the sale proceeds of these dollars within Pakistan.

PAGE: In what capacity you are talking on behalf of those Pakistanis living abroad.

INAM: You may take me as their spokesman as they have authorized me to go ahead if the government gives a green signal. These groups however have certain reservations. They are asking a sovereign guarantee that the funds they invested in Pakistan is according to economic policies of the government and would not be nationalized in any case. The invested funds would not be subjected to any tax unless the areas of investment start showing profitable results. They are willing to invest that fund even against a mark up rate of 13 per cent.

PAGE: Have you moved the idea to the government?

INAM: 'Yes, the idea has already been floated to the concern'. He however declined to give details of the proceedings.

PAGE: You are the founder president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce, how do you see the prospects of economic cooperation in the region.

INAM: Despite the fact that Pakistan and India have strained political relations, the common cultural, language and strategic factors have always been instrumental in a much bigger border trade between the two countries. Due to the policies of the two governments the size of the official trade is hardly around 700-800 million dollar. However the informal border trade is running over $2-3 billion every year. Narrating his personal experience of a visit to India, Inam said Pakistani products informally imported into that country are available at every shop in major markets of Delhi while Indian products whether Banarsi Sari, Indian liqueur, beetle-pan scores of consumer items are available in Pakistan. These are the harsh realities, which we should accept. This is an avenue where the economy can get benefits by allowing the formal trade; otherwise the people engaged in informal trade would continue to take advantage of the situation at the cost of the economy of the two countries.