2- Call Center



Aug 25 - 31, 2003




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.

PAGE: The present government is attaching great importance to the construction industry for economic growth of the country. Will it deliver the goods?

NIHAL: Of 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.

PAGE: 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?

NIHAL: The 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.



PAGE: Would you like to suggest remedial steps to accelerate the pace of development in the construction sector?

NIHAL: For 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.

PAGE: What are the factors behind the sharp increase in real state prices at least in all major urban areas of Pakistan?

NIHAL: 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.