NIHAL AKHTAR, a self-made professional carrying a
rich experience in management, marketing and secretarial functions
spread over 22 years. Currently, associated with Association of Builders
and Developers (ABAD), Nihal is a science graduate from University of
Karachi. During his wide spread professional career, Nihal served in
Bankers Equity Ltd. (BEL) from 1981 to 1996. During his association with
BEL he got the opportunity to work in the field of Modarba Financing,
L/Cs and Guarantees, Project evaluation and Audit, besides the position
of branch manager of BEL to his credit. He also enjoyed working with the
Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE), an NGO
working on environment, arranging national and international workshops
and seminars on environment protection. He takes keen interest in the
development of Information Technology in Pakistan. He is engaged with
Web Education Services, a Dubai-based multilevel marketing company.
The present government is attaching great importance to the construction
industry for economic growth of the country. Will it deliver the goods?
course, the State Bank of Pakistan has taken bold initiatives by
allowing the commercial banks and the DFI in the sector of housing
finance which has broaden the scope of this industry. Although, results
of this decision has not started to come yet, as so far no project
financing has come to light from the banking sector, yet there are
strong hopes that it will go a long way to improve quality of
construction and the credibility of the developers.
Moreover, a credit rating company in the name of
PACRA has also started its function from Lahore. It is hope that
construction companies and the developers would naturally like to attain
a reputable position in the profession hence that will help improve
quality of building projects in Pakistan.
Besides enhancing the role of the financing sector in the construction
industry, the government has also allowed incentives to the cement
industry, the principal ingredient of the industry. Do you think it will
deliver the goods?
government on its part had given an incentive to the cement industry
reducing the central excise duty by 25 per cent on cement, however, that
benefit was not passed on to the consumers and the cement industry has
demanded for a total abolishing of excise duty from the cement industry.
In fact, the policy of the government regarding construction and the
real estate sector can be result-oriented only when it is implemented in
letter and spirit. For instance, take the example of the incentives
announced in the federal budget on one hand, but on the other hand the
provincial government has placed land in different areas of the city on
freeze. In these areas, no transfer and registration of land has been
taking place, which has totally stalled the construction business in
Karachi. The allotment of land under Chief Minister's quota is also
pending for years and no decision regarding the fate have that CM quota
plots has been taken by the provincial government. Consequently, the
developers and the builders have stopped entering any sale or purchase
agreements of these plots. This has also created a stalemate situation
in this industry.
Would you like to suggest remedial steps to accelerate the pace of
development in the construction sector?
construction of building projects any where in the world, the
fundamental necessities are adequate supply of water, electricity, gas,
roads and telephone facilities. Unfortunately, we are facing acute
problems of electricity and water shortage, which is the most essential
pre-requisite for life in the modern living concept. Unless more water
for drinking purposes and electricity is generated to cater to the needs
of the consumers, it would be extremely hard to get the desired level of
development. Besides, short supply of these basic fundamentals, the
rampant corruption in these sectors has added fuel to the fire.
Situation demands all such departments having public dealings should be
made free from the corrupt elements to attract investment both from
local and foreign resources.
What are the factors behind the sharp increase in real state prices at
least in all major urban areas of Pakistan?
Actually, the banking sector has lost the interest of the depositor's
due to low profit rates. The investors, instead of putting their money
in the banking system either are putting into stock exchange business or
in the real estate business, which has ignited the spark of price,
increase in the real estate business. Earlier, conversion of rupee into
dollar was another profitable option for the investors. The gradual
appreciation of Rupee also forced the investors to come back to the
Rupee regime from their investment in dollars. In the absence of options
for profitable options, the investors focusing on stock exchange because
of easy liquidation and the second choice for them is the real estate.
These are the factor for increasing real estate prices in the country.