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
08 - 14, 2002
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.
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
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?
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.
What steps you would suggest bringing back the construction and real
estate business to its previous track?
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.
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.
As an expert what is your observation of the value pattern of the
properties in various localities of Karachi?
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.