INTERVIEW: ASIF ALI RASHID, CHAIRMAN SIGMA LEASING CORP.
Leasing sector can expose industry to the miracles of technology
Aug 07 - 13, 2006
Asif Ali Rashid is contributing significantly to the economic growth of the country through his untiring efforts for the private sector. As a versatile business leader, Asif Ali has set up different business organizations which are registering rapid growth and generating economic activity in the country.
At present Asif Ali Rashid, a seasoned businessman is leading Sigma Leasing Corporation as its Chairman, besides being the Managing Director of Almurtuza Machinery and Al-Rashid Microcomputer Pvt. Ltd. He was born in Bombay and was graduated from Dhaka University. He did his Chartered Accountancy from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan in 1969.
He is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (FCA). He started his career as a member of the Karachi Stock Exchange and thereafter entered into the trading business.
Elaborating the important role being played by the leasing sector in generating economic activity, Asif Ali observed that the leasing sector has emerged as an active player on the economic front of the country, especially in the wake of liberalized financial sector in Pakistan.
The quick and positive response offered by the leasing sector as compared to other financial institutions, especially the banks which have to go through a complex procedure before striking any deal, the leasing sector hardly takes two to three days for a business deal. This quick response makes leasing business more attractive to the customers and that is the reason enabling the leasing sector to grab a major chunk of the market, particularly in leasing car, machinery and other consumer items.
Though the financial charges of the leasing companies are higher as compared to what is being charged by the banking sector yet an easy and quick service to constrained customers goes to its advantage. Explaining the reasons for higher charges by the leasing sector, Asif observed that the banking sector is the only source of funds for the leasing sector in the absence of availability of credit lines from any other sector. It is the art of fund management and simple criterion which help the leasing players excel in the market.
Besides generating employment opportunities at a massive scale, the leasing sector is helping out the manufacturing sector by creating a market demand. Leasing sector has a potential to lend a strong hand for economic development in Pakistan. However, the current trend of increasing the discount rates of the banks by the SBP as a lever to control inflation is feared to affect the upward momentum of economic growth. He agreed that interest rates are used to contain inflationary pressures yet a balance is of vital importance to keep up the pace of generating economic activity on the back of soft and easy credit available to the private sector. It was the low interest rate that helped boost the small and medium enterprises in Pakistan. Actually, the SME sector plays the role of the backbone of an economy. It is highly imperative to keep the SME sector alive and active on the economic front of the country.
Besides access to the financing sector, peace and security and a stable government are the factors which constitute basics for a growing economic composition. He cited the example of the Punjab which is attracting most of the fresh investment as compared to the province of Sindh. Investors are finding it safe and easy to go to that province on the back of stability of the provincial government and better law and order situation there. That is the reason behind the booming economic activity in that province.
Unfortunately, the infighting in the provincial government and various government departments in Sindh have discouraged fresh investment in the province. Sindh offers far more attractive business opportunities as compared to other provinces of the country, however, that potential is not being harnessed only because of instable provincial government and infighting and lack of coordination within government organizations.
The trade and industry has to face the people belonging to a large number of government agencies which are as much as 52 and have to please them if they have to carry out the business. Though the past and the present governments agreed to reduce the number of tax collecting agencies, yet the promise was never fulfilled, he remarked in a bitter tone and added that the business and industry was willing to pay the government taxes but cannot afford to handle 52 agencies. The business people should at least be handled through one window operation in order to make their lives and working easy, he said.
Coming back to his own business including Sigma Leasing Corporation, Almurtuza Machinery and other entities, Asif Ali Rashid observed that the will to excel, the desire to explore new directions, the spirit to conquer new heights and accept new challenges would always be a constant reality in our group of companies.
Consistent planning, professionalism and proactive approach are the keys to the success of our group. Over the past three decades we remained determined to empower industrial sector with latest technologies, whether it is an apparel export industry or an information technology sector, our group has played the role of true pioneers, he remarked.
We believe that the customers are our sincerest partners and we keep on adding value to their endeavors as a consideration to their loyalties. We always enjoyed the close bond of their trust and this trust enhanced our obligations. We are looked upon as a solution provider, especially by the sector that empowers economy of the country and acknowledging this role was never an easy task.
We are sincere in our efforts to take our industries to the miracles of technology. Our group has identified the financing problems faced by medium to small industrial units due to their limited buying capacity. Our response was in the form of Sigma, a leasing company that provides comprehensive financial solutions which are not confined to any particular industry rather these services are meant for the entire industrial sector at large.
The passion to surmount is our trait, we will keep up embarking on our ambitious targets and this exciting journey will be featured with hard work and deep sense of commitment, Asif Ali Rashid observed with a sense of commitment and achievement as well.