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Information Technology


Science & Technology

By Syed M. Aslam
June 11 - 17, 2001

Farooque Bakaly is the immediate-past chairman of Council of Karachi’s Industrial Association (CKIA), the representative body of five officially recognised industrial areas of Karachi, the biggest cluster of industries in the country housing some 14,000 units of all shapes and sizes. He was also elected the chairman of Federal B Area Association of Trade and Industry, one of the five industrial areas where he owns and operates a packaging unit, in 1998-99. After he did his Bachelors in Science (B.Sc) from Karachi, he proceeded to the US and did his BS from Florida University. He later did his Masters in Arts from Karachi University. His association with CKIA and F.B. Area Association of Trade and Industry in various capacities over the years has matured him into a soft-spoken critic of Karachi’s industry and trade with particular reference to exports, the primary activity of the majority of units in these five industrial areas.

PAGE: Would you like to comment on the impact of substantial increase in power tariff during last few years on the industrial activities in Karachi?

Farooque Bakaly: While there is no denying the fact that power tariffs are on the high side in Pakistan, the Karachi-based industries are more worried about the un-uniform tariff compared to their counterparts in the other parts of the country. The Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) is demanding Rs 3,000 per kilowatt hour in security deposit and another Rs 3,500 per kilowatt hour in System Development charges’ from the power consumers in Karachi. On the other hand, the Water and Power Development Authority responsible for power generation and distribution for the rest of the country, is charging less than Rs 1,000 for both the security deposit and ‘system development charges’ combined. Thus the industrial, commercial and residential consumers of Karachi are made to pay six-and-half-fold more charges than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. My contention is that Karachi should not be treated any differently than the rest of the country and, thus, should not be subjected to a more pricey power tariff. It is only fair that power tariffs across the country, including Karachi, should be subjected to uniform rates.

PAGE: Are you satisfied with the stay granted to 109 power consumers against this KESC practise?

Farooque Bakaly: It is heartening to see that the Sindh High Court has granted a stay order in favour of the 109 plaintiffs against the KESC. However, I feel the decision would provide only temporary relief to the power consumers of Karachi as KESC would definitely appeal the stay. For the time being, however, the power consumers of Karachi do feel relieved as the legal victory of 109 industrial units automatically means relief to all other consumers irrespective of category and usage.

PAGE: The acute shortage of water is also hurting industrial activities in Karachi. Your comments please?

Farooque Bakaly: Years of dry spell have certainly taken a heavy toll on the industrial activities in Karachi like elsewhere in the country. Besides, the water billing is based on ‘Net Annual Rental Value’ instead on the much more fair basis of actual consumption. While this is true for all categories of water users — be it residential, commercial or industrial — it is utmost unfair to the industries as consumption of water varies from industry to industry. For instance, I am associated with the packaging industry which does not require and consume large quantities of water like many other industries. However, basing the water billing on ‘net annual rental value’ means that I have to absorb huge water bills despite low consumption. This is highly unjustified and it is only fair that water billing should be consumption-based, after all you cannot treat industries which consume comparatively less water at par with those which requires vast quantities of water for the purpose of billing. An apt solution to solve the problem is to install water meters, like those for electricity and gas consumption.

PAGE: What you feel are the major problems of the industries in Karachi?

Farooque Bakaly: The five industrial areas of Karachi house some 14,000 units of all description and sizes. They employ hundreds of thousands of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled persons. They support another hundreds of thousands of persons indirectly. The rising prices of such basic inputs as power, gas, water, petroleum, etc., have pushed production costs thus rendering our products incompetitive in the international markets. Any further increase in power prices would prove to be the proverbial "last straw on the camel’s back", The power prices have already touched the breaking point. In addition, there is an acute lack of infrastructure facilities at the industrial areas while the existing facilities lacks the maintenance needed to achieve satisfactory, if not optimal, productivity. Whatever little development is taking place, is made possible from private sector’s own initiatives and resources.