Federal, provincial govts urged to pay special attention on Karachi’s woes
KARACHI: Businessmen Group (BMG) chairman and former president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Zubair Motiwala has appealed the federal and provincial governments to pay special attention to the woes of Karachi, which has largely been ignored and resulted in further worsening of the already awful infrastructure across the city, a statement said on Monday.
The roads, sewerage lines and rainwater drainage lines in Karachi have completely damaged, while the city faces severe gas, electricity and water shortages, he added.
Speaking at the 60th annual general meeting (AGM), he said not a single civic service was properly available in Karachi, which are usually available in any other cosmopolitan city of the world, yet this city continues to contribute 67 per cent revenue to the national exchequer, while more than 55 per cent of the total exports were also proceeding from Karachi.
BMG vice chairmen Tahir Khaliq, Haroon Farooki and Jawed Bilwani, general secretary A Q Khalil, newly-elected KCCI president Muhammad Idrees, senior vice president Abdul Rehman Naqi, vice president Qazi Zahid Hussain, retiring president Shariq Vohra, retiring SVP Saqib Goodluck, retiring VP Shamsul Islam Khan, chairman of the Special Committee for Small Traders Majeed Memon, former presidents, Managing Committee members and a large number of general body members attended the meeting.
“Karachi is usually compared with Mumbai but the local government of Mumbai receives a huge budget of 436 billion Indian rupees, whereas Karachi, despite being a more complex and widely spread city, receives a meager amount of Rs52 billion only,” the BMG chairman said and asked: “How is this city going to progress, compete or even survive with such a small budget?”
Motiwala particularly stressed the need to construct the Karachi bypass, which must connect Karachi Port with the Lyari Expressway and the Northern Bypass so that all the heavy vehicles heading towards the upcountry could directly land at the highways without touching the city roads.
Underscoring the need to modify the ineffective taxation policies, which keep the highest earners who pay the highest taxes deprived and distressed.
Motiwala feared that the implementation of the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021 would start from Karachi, as it has been observed from time-to-time that all such laws carrying penalties always start from Karachi.
“If Karachi has to pay all the taxes and suffer penalties, as well, then why Karachi was not receiving development funds in proportion to its contribution,” he said, while reiterating the KCCI’s demand to change the term ‘under-filers’ in the controversial ordinance with ‘non-filers’.
Expressing concerns over the likely gas crisis during the winter season, Motiwala said that the Karachi Chamber has invited Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar at a symposium on gas crisis in which the experts will also be invited to share their point of view and a presentation, highlighting all the facts and history will also be delivered with an intention to explore and agree upon a practical mechanism for efficiently dealing with the gas crisis during the winter season.
“[The] statistics of the last 10 years clearly indicate that [the] gas demand by industries in Karachi remains stagnant in between 385mmcfd to 400mmcfd, yet it was these industries, which suffer the most during the winter season, not because of increase in their demand but due to [the] rise in [the] demand by domestic consumers in Sindh and Balochistan.”
Motiwala said that 10 million jobs declared by Prime Minister Imran Khan cannot be provided by the government alone but it was the private sector of Karachi, which, being the engine of the economic growth, would generate all these jobs, and this is only possible when Karachi is fed adequately and all its issues were given special attention.
Commenting on the miseries and hardships being faced since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, the small traders, shopkeepers, restaurants, marriage halls, saloons, etc, have suffered huge losses due to frequent lockdowns and were still battling for their survival.
“[The] KCCI has been constantly seeking relief but it was really unfortunate that we stand unheard to-date. These are challenging times and every member of the civil society is facing problems due to [the] Covid pandemic. Perhaps, it is time when the government should think about extending monetary help to the citizens, especially the small shopkeepers by pardoning payment of electricity bills and taxes, etc,” he added.
Paying tributes to Late Siraj Kassam Teli for his matchless services and also appreciating the splendid job done by the outgoing office-bearers, the BMG chairman said stepping down from the office-bearers’ position was not the end for retiring president Shariq Vohra, SVP Saqib Goodluck and VP Shamsul Islam who will have to keep on dedicatedly serving the business community as BMGIANs for continuity of all the initiatives and projects undertaken during 2020/21.
“Thanks to the honesty, vigilance and dedication of [the] outgoing office-bearers, the KCCI’s income during 2020/21 recorded an increase of Rs8.4 million, despite substantial reduction in the income generated through visa recommendation letters, attestation and all other services, which became possible due to the digitalisation of [the] chamber’s services that led to achieving the highest membership of 25,000 plus.”
Motiwala urged the newly-elected office-bearers to make extraordinary efforts and strive hard to surpass the benchmark set by the outgoing office-bearers who worked very well but it was still a long way to go towards a stable, prosperous, peaceful, wealthy Karachi, in particular, and Pakistan, in general.
BMG vice chairman Haroon Farooki termed the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021 black and blind law, and said that this issue has to be raised on all Pakistan basis and the KCCI should take lead by summoning all Pakistan chambers’ conference so that the entire business community could compel the government to withdraw this ordinance, which would give unbridled powers to the Federal Board of Revenue.
BMG vice chairman Jawed Bilwani said: “If an ailing Karachi contributes so enormously to the economy, what will be the size of its contribution if attention is given to make it healthier. Both, the federal and provincial governments, will have to realise that Karachi is actually Pakistan, which must receive due attention, otherwise all the economic agonies being faced by Pakistan would remain as they are. We will have to stand up and fight for the rights of Karachi.”
The newly-elected KCCI president Muhammad Idrees vowed to carry forward the mission of late Siraj Kassam Teli who dedicated his entire life to not only serve the business community but all the Karachiites under BMG’s policy of public service.
Pledging to carry on all the initiatives taken by his predecessor, Idrees said that rigorous efforts will be made to further improve the working of the Karachi Chamber through teamwork.
“I’ll be working hard to deal with numerous economic issues and the problems being suffered by the business community due to volatility in [the] dollar-rupee exchange rates, gas, water and electricity crises, Customs and taxation-related issues etc,” he said, adding that individual issues will not be taken into consideration but only general issues being faced by the majority of the business community will be taken up with the relevant quarters.
Idrees also said: “We will use all options and utilise all available platforms to raise a strong voice for resolving the issues being faced by Karachi, which has been receiving step-motherly treatment. We will oppose all anti-business policies but warmly welcome and fully support all those initiatives taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his aides, which are in the larger interest of the country and the business community.”
“The government has to prioritise and work seriously on the Charter of Economy, which is desperately needed, as Pakistan is currently overburdened with debts and facing a lot of challenges so we have to come up with a mechanism in consultation with [the] business community to pull the country out of crises,” the KCCI president said.
“The loyal taxpayers must be appreciated and given facilities, whereas strictest action has to be initiated against individuals who have been living luxurious lives but not paying taxes.”
Earlier, retiring president of the KCCI M Shariq Vohra also paid tributes to late Siraj Teli and highlighted all the achievements along with some major milestones attained by the chamber during 2020/21.
He also assured all-time availability as a humble BMGIAN to the new office-bearers for further improving the operations and image of the Karachi Chamber.
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