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
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
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.