EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHAHID MALIK, VC (SOUTHERN ZONE) PLGMEA

"IT SHOCKS ME WHEN I SEE HOW INDUSTRIES DISPOSE THEIR WASTE."

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Oct 4 - 10, 20
10

Shahid Malik is a businessman currently residing in Karachi. He is youngest of eight siblings. His father who ran a shipping company wanted him (Malik) to follow his footsteps. His father played the major in building his business skills and left marks on his personality. He joined his farther business in college days. Fond of traveling, he started independent venture of exporting flowers abroad. In early ages during 1980, he was made a member of delegation by EPB leaving for Germany. Due to hard work and overexertion, he entered in to leather business. He was nominated as Chairman (Sindh) of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI). He is member managing committee FPCCI).

PAGE: WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR NATIONAL BUILDING AND IN PRESENT FLOOD-TRIGGERED CRISIS IS THIS SATISFACTORY?

SHAHID MALIK: I strongly believe that your country is the reason for all your successes. Therefore, you should help your country in time of need. Corporations should try their utmost to help their brothers and sisters during this disaster. Being socially responsible means that firms should try to find ways for raising awareness among the people. They should be willing to make sacrifices.

Companies should undertake the responsibility of providing goods to the people, preferably at low-cut prices, and in bulk, so that those who could not previously buy these goods can now afford them. It is unfortunate that people do not really need leather jackets in Pakistan. However, what people do need right now is good food, clean, drinkable water, and shelter.

I can see that many organisations, businesses and other NGOs work whole-heartedly to pull Pakistan out of this problem. This is an example of true social responsibility.

PAGE: HOW MANY INDIVIDUALS FROM LEATHER AND LEATHER GARMENT SECTOR HAVE COME FORWARD TO HELP THE FLOOD VICTIMS? AND WHAT EFFORTS HAVE THEY DONE?

SHAHID MALIK: I am proud to say that nearly every individual has contributed to the flood relief work. My wife and I have personally gone to visit flood affected areas. My wife, Dr. Nighat Malik, visited the affected areas with a team of doctors and nurses. The conditions were horrific- but this did not stop the relief work. Boxes were rationed, containing basic necessities such as oil, rice, grains, milk, dates, etc. Toys were collected from schools to be distributed amongst children.

These boxes were taken to affected areas like Thatta, Dadu, Jamshoro, etc. I am happy to say that even the workers themselves have made an effort to help those around them. Every individual saved some of his/her wages to keep aside and used it to help the affected. Wastages were reduced, energy saved, raw materials preserved, all in all effort to save more for those who did not have these facilities.

PAGE: WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ABOUT CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY?

SHAHID MALIK: Being socially responsible means taking into account, the effects that business activity has on the people around you. This not only includes providing a service to the people, but also taking care to preserve the environment. It shocks me when I see how industries dispose their waste. People don't realise that when firms only take their private benefits into account, they actually oversee the social costs to the environment. The Korangi Industrial area faces not only physical pollution, but also noise, air and sound pollution. Pakistan is a great country. There is nothing that we do not possess- except good sense. We are using and abusing our environment. At this point, we need to put aside our differences and work together to help our brothers and sisters in need. Each of us is an individual, and each individual must play their part towards the betterment of Pakistan's future. Corporations must work in such a way so that each and every individual benefits... this should be the true aim of any firm.

PAGE: WHAT CHANGE HAVE YOU NOTICED IN THE EXPORT OF LEATHER GARMENTS AND LEATHER IN PAKISTAN OVER THE PERIOD OF LAST 10 YEARS?

SHAHID MALIK: The leather garment industry has experienced several ups and downs. However, since the last 4-5 years, the industry's decay has intensified significantly. The leather industry has shrunk mainly to the third world countries. But Pakistan does not realise the importance of this fact. Countries like India, China, Vietnam and Bangladesh are taking advantage of this condition and steadily increasing its exports to match world demand. There are many reasons for the decay of the leather industry. In Pakistan, exports of leather goods are declining due to a lack of proper infrastructure. Another factor which greatly contributes to a decline in exports is the increase in the use of child labour. Pakistan produces high-quality leather footballs, but there has been a ban on goods that use child labour. This has greatly reduced exports and negatively affected the industry. This year, overall, there has been a 30-40 per cent decline in export of leather products.

PAGE: WHAT CHANGES DO YOU THINK ARE GOING TO TAKE PLACE IN THE EXPORT SECTOR OF PAKISTAN 10 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD?

SHAHID MALIK: At our current pace and the present economic and political condition, I find it hard to believe that the export sector will flourish considerably in the future. As a realistic and a down-to-earth businessman, I do not think that exports will do well. Let's face it: the country needs to improve its industries and its methods of production. Exports might just dwindle if we continue at our current pace. Economic growth is directly linked to stability. This includes political stability as well as price stability. Unless and until we make large investments, especially in the infrastructural developments, our industries cannot survive. However, from one point-of-view, I think this is an excellent opportunity for businessmen to improve their efficiency and production. The present condition might de-motivate entrepreneurs, but more enthusiastic ones will use this opportunity to invest in their business and create better quality goods and services. I think that the export sector now stands on wobbly ground. Only the future will tell us where our exports will stand.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE LEATHER AND LEATHER GARMENT SECTOR OF PAKISTAN WITH OTHER COUNTRIES?

SHAHID MALIK: Firstly, I would like to point out that our leather products are of the highest quality. This is advantageous as good quality means that consumers will want to buy more. But the leather industry faces many problems. The infrastructure is very poor, and in some cases, completely non-existent. The site of the industry is extremely unhygienic, with rubbish heaps flooding the ground. Maintenance levels are very poor, and the roads are blocked sometimes due to traffic. This hinders the transport of goods from one place to another. Recently, I was in Iran, and I was astounded to see the conditions of their industries. The tanneries were spotless, the surroundings perfectly clean and hygienic. Another problem the leather sector faces, like most industries of Pakistan, is a lack of infrastructure facilities like water, gas, electricity. However, this is not the case with other countries. The government ensures that all industries, regardless of their size, receive adequate facilities. The leather industry used high-tech production methods, skilled labour, and a managerial staff that was educated and skilled. Then, I visited South Africa, and soon afterwards, the UK and Italy. Again, the leather industries were located in easily accessible locations, away from residential areas.

Overall, the leather sector of Pakistan still needs to develop further. This is important if we are to become more competitive internationally.