'Malaysians want to share their expertise in the field of construction with their Pakistani counterparts'

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Sep 05 - 11, 2005


Kuala Lumpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry is planning to hold a single country exhibition in the month of December in collaboration with the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

A 40-member delegation of top class Malaysian businessmen would be visiting Pakistan to participate in this exhibition as well as interact with their Pakistani counterparts.

Mohammad Hafiz Hashim, head of five-member Malaysian delegation, stated this while talking to LCCI Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad recently. The LCCI Convener also attended the meeting on Standing Committee on WTO Akbar Sheikh and Secretary LCCI Wing Commander Mohammad Younas. Hafiz Hashim said that the proposed delegation, during its stay in Pakistan, would also explore the business opportunities to initiate joint venture.

He said that Malaysians want to share their expertise in the field of construction with their Pakistani counterparts. He said that in Pakistan the industry is manual work oriented instead of mechanized one and if the two countries join hands in this particular sector the situation could be more beneficial for both the sides. He said that we want to team up with Pakistan for the better future of the two countries.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad said that Pakistan's construction industry badly needs hand holding from its Malaysian counterparts as this industry is growing with every passing day and it is high time for the Malaysian investors to come forward and invest in Pakistan.

He said that though Malaysia is suffering because of shortage of skilled manpower but the situation in Pakistan is also no different and there is a dire need that Pakistan and Malaysia should ink a MoU for the training of manpower.

Sheikh Mohammad Arshad said that there are immense opportunities for foreign investment in construction, property development, tourism, entertainment complexes, architecture and hoteling. Tourism, housing and construction sectors have been given the status of industry with a facility to import plant, machinery and equipment, not manufactured locally, at custom duty of 5% and zero-rated sales tax.

Foreign Direct Investment has been facilitated through a number of measures, which include free movement of foreign exchange, free access to capital markets, no restrictions on repatriation of principal, dividends and profit, no limit on equity held by foreigners, no requirement for entering into a joint venture with a Pakistani company, no permission required for setting up any project, etc.

He said that the construction and real estate sector is one of the most dynamic and fast track growth sectors of the Pakistan's economy. It not only caters to the needs of our growing population for houses but also acts as an engine for the growth of a large number of support industries and businesses. During the last couple of years, the construction and real estate sector has attracted extensive financial, infrastructural and human resources investment in the country. The boost to the construction industry can be imagined from the fact that construction industry's contribution to the Gross National Product of Pakistan has increased from 1.6% in 2001-02 to 6.2% in 2004-05.

Sheikh Mohammad Arshad said that according to a conservative estimate, there was a backlog of 4.3 million housing units in Pakistan during 1998, which is now projected at 6.0 million. The annual additional requirement is estimated around 0.57 million housing units whereas the annual production is estimated around 0.3 million housing units, resulting in a recurring shortfall of 0.27 million units annually. It is estimated that in order to meet the housing shortfall in the next 20 years, the overall housing production will have to be increased to 0.82 million housing units.

He said that a deeper look into the real estate sector reveals that 39% households have one-room homes, 31% two room houses, 24% 3 to 4 rooms and 6% houses consist of 5 rooms or more. There is a need to address the middle income group in the housing sector development plan. These facts and figures reflect the potential for investment under the existing investment friendly environment.

Cement manufacturing is another area in construction, which is highly profitable these days and can be exploited by the Malaysian investors.


Business community has expressed grave concern over stoppage of issuance of visas by Royal Thai Consulate in Lahore.

Reacting over the issue, the LCCI office-bearers and the Executive Committee said that such a decision would cast negative impact and is likely to hamper the vigorously expanding economic cooperation between the two countries. They urged the Thai Ambassador to revive the issuance of visa from Royal Thai Consulate in Lahore in the larger interest of business community.

Mian Misbah said that the relations between the business communities of the two countries are fraternal and cordial and there is a caring touch in the nimble development of economic and trade ties.

He said the year 2005 was a year of rapid progress. Mutual exchange of business delegations had triggered an era of substantial bilateral trade. Through interaction between Thai and Pakistani entrepreneurs, signing of joint ventures is a welcome enhancement in expanding co-operation.

In particular, the economic pace setters in Punjab are extremely grateful to Thai Consulate Lahore and Thai Business Centre for facilitating the progressive momentum.

The LCCI President said that the stoppage of issuance of visas by Royal Thai Consulate in Lahore is a negative development, which needs immediate attention of Thai Ambassador. Mian Misbah said that the LCCI would continue to support and back all actions that will bring about dynamic changes and economic progress between Thailand and Pakistan.