The beverage industry in Pakistan, which is basically
a job-oriented industry, besides providing employment opportunities to
the people at a massive scale, contributes over Rs5 billion to the
government revenues annually.
Coca-Cola, which enjoys a household name amidst the
food and beverage sector of the country, alone contributes over Rs2
billion in the form of different taxes levied on the beverage industry
besides creating economic activity in the allied industries like glass
and plastic bottles manufacturing, crowns, stickers, cooling equipments
besides logistics for the market network all over the country.
These observations were made by the senior officials
of the Coca-Cola Group including Afzal Malik, Director Communications
and Public Affairs for Central Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Group,
A.Gurtay Kipcak, Director Communication and Public Affairs for Eurasia
and Middle East Division, and Rizwan U. Khan, Manager Communications and
Public Affairs, Pakistan.
Coca-Cola, which is actively engaged in its business
operations for the last 50 years in this country, is sincerely committed
to the economic growth of the country, they said and added that out of
nine plants in Pakistan, seven are run by Coca-Cola Group itself except
two which have been franchised to the local companies. The 7 plants
operated by Coca-Cola itself are located in Karachi, Sialkot, Gujranwala,
Faisalabad, Rahimyarkhan, Multan and Lahore besides a massive sales and
marketing network all over the country.
Replying to a question, they said that the marketing
strategy both for urban and rural areas is given equal importance which
responds encouraging results especially from the rural and remote parts
of the country.
As far as the role of Coca-Cola towards government's
efforts for economic revival of the country, it has brought investment
worth $130 million in recent years, which has carved a prominent
position for the company as one of the largest direct foreign investors
in Pakistan, they observed.
Currently, the beverage industry is facing problems
on account of uneven playing field which discriminates this vibrant
economic sector from other economic areas of the country. Citing the
example, they said that this industry has to pay taxes in for the form
of Central Excise Duty at the raw material stage as well as the finished
products. They said if this sector provided relief from this double
taxation, we are committed to invest 100 percent of the saved money to
give a push to economic activity in Pakistan.
Despite rapid growth of beverage industry in
Pakistan, which places this country as the second largest out of 23
countries of the region, the market has still a great appetite to growth
provided the prices of the soft drinks were matching to the purchasing
power of the consumers. According to a survey, the average consumption
of soft drinks is estimated at 20 bottles per person per year in
Pakistan as compared to 110 bottles per person in the developed world.
In fact this industry has a great potential for
growth as well as creating employment opportunities at a larger scale
provided this industry is treated at par with the rest of the economic
areas. To substantiate their point of view, they said currently,
Coca-Cola spends over Rs600 million per annum on purchases from allied
industries, incurs over Rs500 million as annual capital, advertising and
trade expenditures. This company provides direct jobs to over 6,000 of
which 1,800 permanent, 2,500 temporary, 6,000 indirect distributions,
over 51,000 indirect jobs through multiplier effects of its over all
Replying to another question regarding market share
enjoyed by Coca-Cola in Pakistan, they said that it's a known fact that
Coca-Cola had enjoyed number one position in Pakistan for decades,
however, at present it may be placed at number two player in the market,
yet we have not given up and in the constant process of regaining its
top position in the market within next three years.
Rizwan U. Khan while highlighting the social services
of his companies said that besides its commercial interests, Coca-Cola
fully aware of its social responsibilities and seriously takes care of
the community welfare in Pakistan. In this respect, Coca-Cola
contributed Rs2.5 million for the Drought Relief Fund to help and save
lives of affected people. It was among the first companies in Pakistan
to participate in Lahore's renovation program and its contribution has
helped restore a beautiful landmark and a National Heritage site in
Lahore that is Dayal Singh Mansion.
Rizwan said Coca-Cola adopted five government schools
in Gujranwala and Rahimyarkhan and constructed 28 class rooms and 15
washrooms these educational centers. Coca-Cola did not lag in the urban
areas as well and sponsored major arts and culture festivals like
Caravan Karachi Festival in September 2001.
Coca-Cola is committed to its social and as well
economic responsibility and will continue to play actively for the good
of the community, they assured.