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Hafeez Urrehman Butt, Chairman of the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) is a prominent figure of the construction industry in Pakistan carrying the distinction of developing various prestigious projects to his professional career. He gave a number of beautiful housing and commercial projects to Karachi which include Billy's Tower, Billy's Hieght, Billy's Terrace, Billy's Paradise, Billy's Garden. Billy's Homes, Billy's Arcade and Clifton Shopping Galleria.

Mar 11 - 17, 2002

Having international exposure in his field Hafeez worked for over 15 years in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore and an eye witness to the process of economic development of these commercial giants of Asia.

PAGE: The rehabilitation of Afghanistan after the devastation of September 11 events, is currently the talk of the town. Being the Chairman of ABAD and a leading industrialist in the construction industry what are the prospects of Pakistan to have its share in the re-development of Afghanistan, especially in the construction industry?

Hafeez: The strategic geographic location, being the next door neighbour of Afghanistan, has given an edge to Pakistan over other countries. The existing road links between the two countries certainly is an advantage for comparatively cheaper transport of goods to that country. Therefore whosoever wins the contracts for rebuilding of Afghanistan he has no option but to rely on raw materials and skilled manpower supplies from Pakistan.

PAGE: Do you think that Pakistan has the capacity to meet all the requirements of supplies related to rebuilding efforts of Afghanistan?

Hafeez: Over the years, the construction industry in Pakistan has developed a depth that is second to none in the world. It enjoys expertise of world class architects and civil engineers while over 72 allied industries such as steel, cement, glass, paints, electronic and electricity appliances, wood, plastic and aluminum fixtures, tiles, marbles and a large number of other items are being produced within the country. Those items produced in Pakistan were put on display when a Turkish delegation recently visited Pakistan in connection with rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

PAGE: Looking at the economic gains with the participation in rehabilitation process, what efforts your organization is making to attract international companies for getting supplies related to construction sector from Pakistan.

Hafeez: A large number of foreign trade delegations are visiting Pakistan in connection with their marketing campaigns to get contracts. We as the private sector in collaboration with the government are in close liaison with these delegations which clearly reflects in our meetings with Turkish, Romanian and Chinese delegations recently visited Pakistan.

PAGE: Don't you think that holding of seminars and exhibitions to display Pakistan's manufacturing ability to provide assistance in that process, may prove helpful.

Hafeez: ABAD has already organized an exhibition within the premises of ABAD and can organize even more such exhibitions on a large scale whenever the situation comes in future.

PAGE: What steps you would suggest grabbing a large share in the economic development of Afghanistan?

Hafeez: As far as the construction and 72 allied industries are concerned, Pakistan is in command to meet the entire requirement. However, in order to make the price level of these supplies, we have suggested to the government that all taxes on such items, which are required in Afghanistan, should be exempted. For example at present our cement industry is running below capacity due to lower demand for the cement in Pakistan. Currently, hardly about 40 per cent capacity of the cement sector is underutilized. Removal of taxes on cement and other items would certainly make it competitive and help winning the contracts. However our cement industry has already started dispatching consignments to that country.

PAGE: The government has chalked out a policy to shift cement and other industries from oil to coal. Is this conversion is going to help reducing the input cost and will this benefit be passed on to the consumers?

Hafeez: No doubt, switching over of the cement and power generating sectors from oil to coal would prove an effective cost cutting factor. According to an assessment, 21 per cent cost of electricity and Rs17 per bag of the cement should come down after the completion of this conversion process.

PAGE: What are the prospects of revival of construction industry within the country as it has been passing through difficult times since last many years?

Hafeez: The government on its part has given the best housing policy. Now the most important thing required is an effective follow-up to ensure implementation of the policy. The government has already announced total exemption of income tax and will not ask any question about investment in the smaller housing units measuring 150 sq. yards and 1050sq feet of apartments. With the exemption of smaller housing units from taxation the economic activity is likely to take off soon in the construction industry.