Nov 11 - 17, 2002

SHAUKAT IQBAL is the newly elected President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). KCCI is a premier body and enjoys a country wide reputation for representing the problems of the business community as well as the economic issues to the government level from this platform. Shaukat Iqbal is also known industrialist and associated with the KCCI activity for the past many years and has already worked in various capacities for the business community.

Shaukat Iqbal is the Chief Executive of Saba Textile Mills (Pvt.) Ltd and carried a good name in the business circles.

PAGE: The economic policies of the present government have produced good results during the last three years. Don't would you think these policies should continue even after the installation of the new elected government?

SHAUKAT IQBAL: Policies which are good and have produced results, I think nobody will be fool enough to scrap them, however if any policy imposed upon the country by the IMF or any other international donor agency and does not serve the cause of the country should be done away with immediately.

PAGE: The shift in policies with the shift in the government has become a stigma on Pakistan. Inconsistency in our policies especially economic policies is one of the main concern of the investors in this country and that is why the flow of investment from external resources has become very thin in Pakistan with the exception of the energy sector where some activity is going on. Would you suggest that the would-be government allowed to bring changes in the policies introduced by the present government if these policies are against the liking of the new comers?

SHAUKAT IQBAL: By no means I would suggest changes in the policies massively, however there should be flexibility for modification in the policies in accordance to the need of the economy and the country as well.

PAGE: How would you describe the success of the financial policies of the present government, especially the management of foreign reserves, which are about to touch the unprecedented height of $9 billion very soon.

SHAUKAT IQBAL: Pakistan's financial health has improved remarkably, no doubt, however there is a concern regarding use of these reserves: You see if these funds are allowed to drift in the capital market or in the real estate business it would not add significantly to the productivity level of the country. These funds should be invested in a way that the wheel of the industry or manufacturing sector starts moving. If new industrial units come into operation it would not only help producing the export surplus but also help creating job opportunities for the people. Hence the reserves should be used more productively especially in the manufacturing sector. He said that unemployment is the root cause of law and order situation in this country. The only way to check law and order situation effectively is to provide job opportunities to the needy, provide education at an affordable price to the masses, if the lot of the masses is not improved, the heaps of money are meaningless. He reiterated that those policies which good should remain intact but any policy, which is against the interest of the people, should be done away with immediately.

PAGE: Would you like to pin point the areas, which are creating hurdles in the way of industrialization in the country?

SHAUKAT IQBAL: I don't want to be specific, however, it is the overall culture or lack of education, which is hampering growth of the economy at the desired level. Take the example of infrastructure facilities in Pakistan. It is in such a repulsive state of affairs that is enough to scare away the investors. The electricity, which provides the real force for running the industry, however despite induction of the army in the KESC the overall situation of the power supply is not appreciable.

Despite Army Monitoring Cell to check power theft, one can always see the illegal kundas hanging on the transmission lines of the distribution system in all parts of the city. As a result of these kundas on one hand KESC loses over 40 per cent of its power generation while the consumers are facing power fluctuations, disruptions, failures and breakdowns and even load shedding. If the situation in KESC could not improve even after induction of the army than what remains else to put the KESC in smooth working system?

PAGE: To whom you would blame for disruption and corruption in the KESC or other public sector organizations?

SHAUKAT IQBAL: The problems are on both sides. On one hand the consumers are stealing power through Kundas but on the other hand, these hanging kundas visible in every street of Karachi are enough to prove that these kundas despite every hue and cry in the newspapers cannot be allowed without connivance of the KESC officials.

If 40 per cent power goes in theft the beneficiaries are not the consumers alone, some share of the booty must be reaching to the KESC staff also.