Interview with Mr Khalid Tawab – Chairman, Tawab Group of Companies
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and your organization, please:
Khalid Tawab: I am Chairman of Tawab Group of Companies which is renowned named in the manufacturing of paper, paper board and steel. I have served as Senior Vice President and Vice President of FPCCI. I am honorary Consul General of Mozambique since 1989. President of Pakistan awarded me Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2009 in recognition of my outstanding public services. My company got two time FPCCI Exports Awards and one time International Asia Award due to highest exports. I am philanthropist and trustee of Aiwan-e-Tijarat-o-Sanat hospital.
PAGE: How would you, as a businessman, describe Pakistan Day?
Khalid Tawab: Pakistan Day is very important day for all of us as the Lahore Resolution passed and people started their struggle for new country. Whatever we are today is just because of our country. This country has given us a lot in terms of wealth, respect, dignity, culture, honor, values etc but what we have given to this country is a question mark? Poverty, unemployment, injustice and corruption are the main issues that have weakened the roots of Pakistan. On this auspicious day, we should not forget the movement of our elders and leaders for the independence of Pakistan. We should pay tribute to our leaders and highlight their movement for the creation of Pakistan.
PAGE: What is your take on the growth of the economy of Pakistan over the period of last 70 years?
Khalid Tawab: The growth of Pakistan over the seventy years has been fluctuating. Sometimes it is seven to eight percent and sometimes it is two to three percent while the average growth rate of Pakistan is 4 to 4.5 percent. The growth of Pakistan increased in the decade of 1960s when government adopted import substitution policy and industrialization flourished in Pakistan. Several industries were established that reduced the poverty and unemployment. The growth rate of economy declined in 1970s due to stuck up of the process of industrialization in to nationalization policy. Moreover, the law and order situation, high cost of doing business, taxation policies, low infrastructure development, technological backwardness etc are the current issues which has affected the industrialization process. If we analyze the role of industry in economic development, we can see that investment in manufacturing sector is the real investment, which not only contributes to the economic growth but also eliminates poverty and unemployment.
PAGE: Your views on the business activities in Pakistan as compared to the neighboring countries:
Khalid Tawab: The economic growth rate always depends upon the business activities. Historically, the business activities in Pakistan have been higher than the activities in India, Bangladesh and China and as a result the economic growth rate of Pakistan was higher than these countries and our per capita income was higher than neighboring countries.
In the nineties, due to law and order situation, weak policies and political instability, the business activities of Pakistan declined while our regional countries like India and Bangladesh came up with improved policies, competitiveness and innovation strategy, which enhanced their economic activities. Moreover, the war against terrorism also affected the priorities of Pakistan. Pakistan has lost US$ 123 billion in war against terrorism.
At present, the export of Pakistan is showing a declining trend due to decline of foreign investment and business activities while the export of regional countries has increased. There is a need to diversify our exports by moving progressively to the exports of steel, electronics, chemicals, and other engineering goods. Asian economies like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea started with the sharp increase in the exports of textile and then gradually shifted to the capital intensive production of electronics and other light and heavy engineering goods. Market access and compliance issues are also needed to enhance exports of Pakistan.
In WTO, Pakistan comes in developing nations and market access is given to least developing nations like Bangladesh. Due to this facility, Bangladesh increased its exports and also used market access facility. Moreover, the policies of regional countries also support in business activities particularly export-related activities.
PAGE: What must be done sooner rather than later for the economic prosperity?
Khalid Tawab: Economic prosperity is necessary for the future of Pakistan. If we utilize our resources efficiently, we can achieve economic prosperity. The World Bank and different institutions have projected that Pakistan is likely to become member of G20 by 2030. Currently, the economy of Pakistan is moving upward but their trickle down effects are not transferred to lower income group. We need to do a lot for improving the economy and achieving of G20 potential because these potential depends on transformation of the economic structure from factor-driven to innovation-driven economy which in turn depends on the ability to create an environment conducive to development of a competitive private sector, the strengthening of institutional framework and structural reforms. Moreover, China Pakistan Economic Corridor will also give opportunities to Pakistan to connect with Central Asian economies and Europe.
PAGE: Your views on the image of Pakistan in the world:
Khalid Tawab: Like other developing nations, the image of Pakistan is not good in the world and the reason behind is the campaign on media about political and other activities which is seen all over the world. We should use media in building the positive image of Pakistan and represent safest and secure Pakistan where there are a lot of opportunities for investment and tourism. Our policies are business friendly for foreigners and there is high rate of return in Pakistan. We should bring our youth forward for the improvement of image of Pakistan.