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Profile IMTIAZ AHMED
Column FOR THE RECORD
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PROFILE

IMTIAZ AHMED

Imtiaz Ahmed, is the Chief Executive of "AHMED ESTATE" which deals construction and real estate business? A Graduate from University of Karachi, Imtiaz started his business in 1980 when the business of real estate construction was on its peak in Pakistan. Enjoying a good business reputation, Imtiaz Ahmed is known all over Karachi and due to his honest dealing he has succeeded in carving a place where the investors have a blind faith on his professional capabilities. He says that whatever the business you are doing, it is the honesty and sincerity with the profession which is the secret of every success story.

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
July 08 - 14, 2002

PAGE: The events of September 11 are held responsible for worldwide economic recession, what was the impact on real estate business, which was already sinking in Pakistan.

IMTIAZ: Contrary to the general impact of the terrorist attacks in the United States which resulted in a global recession, it proved a blessing in disguise especially on the real estate business in Pakistan. The real estate business was almost on the brink of collapse as a large number of people involved in this business either had shifted to some other business or were preparing to quit this sinking business. However, the September 11 brought a dramatic change in the real estate business due to influx of the home remittances especially from the United States and other European countries.

Prior to the events of September 11, Dollar was considered to be the safest area for investment. The investment in dollar was not only safe from rate of return point of view as Green backs were always moving upward. Apart from safe profits, there was no need of documentation for purchase of dollar hence a large chunk of investment was going into dollar business. The situation was however taken a "U" turn as the rupee started gaining strength against the dollar. After de-dollarization of the economy, the investors again started looking back into the real estate for investment. The flow of dollars from external resources in the form of home remittances also started finding its way into real estate business which also gave a new lease of life to this dying business in Pakistan.

PAGE: Once, the Real Estate business was considered as the haven for the investors and this business was booming on such a scale that every second industrialist and investor got involved in this business. Would you identify the factors, which were responsible for bringing paralyzing effects, the real estate business in Pakistan?

IMTIAZ: As you know, the economy on the whole had reached at the verge of the collapse some 4 years ago. Our reserves were shrunk to a miserable state and the country had not enough reserves for external trade and debt servicing. The investors' confidence was badly shattered and they were not prepared to take risks due to uncertain conditions prevailing in Pakistan. It was not the real estate business alone but the entire economy was facing the same fate.

The economic situation took a turn around in Pakistan with the change of the government due to good decisions and policies announced by the present government. However, the drive launched by the present government for documentation in every nook and corner of the economy had an extremely adverse effect on the real estate business as even the genuine and small investors avoid to face the corrupt official agencies conducting the survey or documentation drive. Before launching the campaign for documentation, the government should have taken steps for improving the image of the departments responsible for tax collection. However, the situation was improved after the government realized the importance of the construction industry and the real estate business, because over 80 industries providing jobs to the millions are allied to the real estate business.

PAGE: What steps you would suggest bringing back the construction and real estate business to its previous track?

IMITAZ: Paucity of funds is the fundamental reason for a slow down in this business. There is only one source for providing housing finance in Pakistan and that is House Business Finance Corporation (HBFC). This only source has stopped extending housing finance for the last over two years. It is imperative for this industry that not only the HBFC should resume disbursing housing loans but other financial institutions should also be allowed to provide house financing to cater to the basic need of shelter in this country.

PAGE: Do you agree with the recently announced Housing Policy?

IMTIAZ: As a matter of fact, the real impact of any policy comes after a period of 6-8 months of the announcement. However, it is suggested for the benefit of the policy makers as well as for the people that no room should be allowed for ambiguities in the policies. It is the ambiguity or confusion, which provides opportunity of corruption for the corrupt. A well-defined and well-directed policy leaves no room for corruption.

PAGE: As an expert what is your observation of the value pattern of the properties in various localities of Karachi?

IMTIAZ: Prices of the property in the areas like DHA, Clifton, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, North Nazimabad etc have picked up considerably and the investors have started making investments in these areas which is certainly a good news for the people involved in this business.