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KARACHI: Speakers at a dialogue on Thursday said that political corruption, dilapidated civic infrastructure, administrative inefficiency, undocumented economy, poor law and order, etc., have been some of the major issues which hampered the trade and industrial growth in Karachi, over the time.

Also, they were of the view that most of the issues of Karachi are not political, but administrative, urging the PTI-led federal and PPP-led provincial governments to pay special attention to resolve the chronic socio-economic and administrative issues of Karachi – the economic lifeline, and revenue engine of Pakistan.

The event titled “Trade and Industry of Karachi, challenges and solutions” was organized by Jamaat-e-Islami as part of its ‘Rebuild Karachi’ panel discussion series, in collaboration with Pakistan Business Forum at a local hotel.

The event was moderated by journalist Imran Sultan, while the panelists were former President Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shariq Vohra, Chairman All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) Atiq Mir, Salman Javed from travel and tourism sector, Hanif Lakhani from Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Hanif Memon Senior Vice Chairman Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD), and Waqas Azeem from All Pakistan Restaurant Association (APRA), while Kamran Khalil represented Livestock sector.

The panelists appraised JI Karachi Chapter Amir Engineer Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman about issues being faced by their respective sectors and also proposed solutions.

Shariq Vohra said his one year tenure as President of KCCI has been enlightening experience to understand the real issues of this city. He said the biggest issue of Karachi is of legislation. He was of the view that political corruption, administrative inefficiency, poor local government system, fragmented society, and moral degradation of the new generation are some of the macro level issues.

He criticized the ‘symbolic’ inauguration of BRT Karachi Green Line project by the ‘highly incompetent’ politicians. This project has been completed by the taxpayers’ money of Karachiites. The government has not been able to come up with any mega public transport system, yet. No major public sector university, hospital, etc., have been established in the port city for the last many years.

“1729 Kolachi had better civic amenities than what we have today in Karachi,” he said, urging the Karachiites to be united on real issues instead of ethnic grounds.

Kamran Khalil discussing livestock sector’s challenges said the share of agriculture sector in GDP stands at around 25 percent. Pakistan is the only meat producing country in the region. Its potential is huge but the country has not been able to tap this potential due to lack of infrastructure and government’s will. Local meat market is non-regulated, he said.

Atiq Mir said Karachi has been destroyed under a conspiracy over the time. The city infrastructure is devastated but the authorities are unmoved. We all have to take the responsibility of developing this city irrespective of any affiliation. Karachi is a multi-cultural city, it has diversification, and it can become a prosperous city.

This city needs 500 fire tenders to avoid any fire incident. But due to the negligence of authorities concerned, only 25 out of the total 44 fire tenders in are functional. He asked the people to come out of their homes and fight for their rights.

Waqas Azeem representing All Pakistan Restaurant Association (APRA) said that 2.5 million People including skilled labours are associated with the sector. Restaurants help run 40 allied industries in the country, it is yet to get the status of an industry.

Hanif Lakhani, on this occasion, said that no government owned this city. To a query raised by Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, Hanif said industrialists face more issues in Karachi compared to Punjab and this is primarily due to lake of political will to ensure ease of business in the city. Labour cost is also higher in Karachi compared with Lahore, he said.

Imran Sultan said: “The issues of Karachi are not political, but administrative.” Those who have been found of doing garbage politics are now in Parliament and the fact is that their own streets are flooding with sewerage water. Undocumented economy is also the bigger issue, than poverty and ignorance, he said. Hanif Memon said Karachi is the economic hub of Pakistan; it contributes 26 percent to the GDP and 67 tax collection for the national exchequer.

He said construction is mother industry, which runs 72 allied industries. Up to 95 percent import export activity of the country takes place in Karachi, but the port city has never been given due concentration by all governments.

Salman Javed from travel and tourism sector said Karachi has been neglected in all fronts. The recently enacted local bodies act by Sindh Assembly is one example of how the city dwellers are being deprived of their democratic and administrative rights. He said Karachi has now demographically changed, and people across all provinces are settled in the port city. “Karachi should be owned by all,” he said.

Travel agencies and hotels are labour-incentive businesses. They generate employment. If the infrastructure related issues are resolved, we can make Karachi a travel destination. He said hotels remained closed in Covid-19 period last year, due to which people associated with the sector suffered a lot, he said.

He said tourism has become a provincial subject after the 18th constitutional amendment, which is not good. World over, he said, tourism is administrated, and managed by the federations. He said regulatory functions of travel agencies are dysfunctional. High taxes are being imposed on the sector. He called for the establishment of Regulatory in the province. “Provincial taxes should be reviewed,” he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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