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Pakistan set to experience broad economic recovery amid covid challenges

Pakistan set to experience broad economic recovery amid covid challenges

  • Country is truly capable to meet food crisis under pandemic and onwards
  • Need of an investment strategy response in order to reverse some of the post Covid-19 distress
  • Vigorous attempts are must for health sector improvement

Interview with Mr. Abdul Rahim Janoo — a leading businessman

Profile:

Occupation: Export and import.

Nature of business: Export — rice, grain, agrobased products, spices, sugar, wheat & by products.

Import — milk powder, tea, rubber, spices.

Land lords — property owners and giving properties on rent.

Petrol pumps — owner and operator of petrol pumps.

President: Memon Leadership Forum (MLF)

Convener: Memon Leadership Conference (MLC)

Chairman: South zone group (REAP).

Haji Razak Janoo Memorial Trust, Karachi.

Pakistan Economic Forum.

Masjid al-Razak, SITE/ Masjid al-Hamida, Super Highway/Jama Masjid Haider-e-Karrar (Clifton)/Jama Masjid Mustafa (Nooriabad)/ Jama Masjid Umer (Manzoor Colony).

Ex-chairman: Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) from 2001-2003 and 2008-2009.

FPCCI export trophy awards and achievement award 2015 which organised two export trophies in which PM Pakistan and one achievement award in which President of Pakistan were chief guest, these three functions also increased revenue for FPCCI.

Accounts FPCCI 2015 which curtailed un-necessary expenses and made FPCCI financially strong.

Fair and exhibition committee FPCCI 2015/2016 achieved record revenue for FPCCI, which was instrumental in starting finishing work of capital office building Islamabad and completion.

Ex-senior vice president : Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry

Ex vice chairman: Pakistan Rice Board, Govt of Pakistan.

Ex- president: Dhoraji Cooperative Housing Society.

Member Managing: Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (1999-2002).

Leader of Delegation: Dubai, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Sri Lanka, UK, US, South Africa, India, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen.

Member: Federal Export Board, Govt of Pakistan.

Member committee: Karachi Club/Muslim Gymkhana.

Founder Chairman: Pakistan, Sri Lanka Business Council (1991-95).

Pakistan Milk Powder Importer’s Association (2006-2008).

Chief Organizer: Baba Farid Free Eye Camp (largest & most modern free eye charity trust in Pakistan) also done free eye camps in Azad Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Till November2020 have organised 292 free laser surgery eye camps in Pakistan and abroad.

Achievements: Presented gold medal by Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan on 19/01/2020 for successfully organizing three-day First Memon Leadership Conference from 17 to 19 January 2020 in Karachi with worldwide representation.

Got gold medal from Prime Minister of Pakistan as best chairman of any association in 2003.

Got gold medal from Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2006 for increasing rice exports more than 550%.

Got gold medal from Federal Health Minister, Govt of Bangladesh in 2007 for eye charity services in Dhaka, Chittagong and Mymensingh, Bangladesh.

Got gold medal from Prime Minister of Pakistan for good value export from Pakistan on 28/12/2015.

Got gold medal from President of Pakistan for bonding REAP as leader and organizing 10 successful export awards – 28/12/2018.

Got gold medal, Govt of Sweden on agriculture paper.

Got highest number of votes in Karachi Chamber elections 2000-2001 and got highest number of votes in Federation of Chamber of Commerce election 2015.

Given award of ‘Maseeha’ by Janab Mohammad Mian Soomro, acting president of Pakistan at Pakpattan.

Appreciation shield in International Rice Conference Singapore 2009.

Three roads are named, two in Karachi and one in Pakpattan.

Led delegations to 14 countries and also has been member of Prime Minister and President of Pakistan various delegations.

Due to untiring efforts of REAP members, we have done so much for rice trade specially for enhancing rice export trade which was only US$300 million when I took over as chairman in 2001 and made it possible to increase upto more than US$2.2 billion in my 2nd tenure in 2008-09. We also started REAP’s trade delegation to many countries of the world and hold Biryani festival, which were very instrumental for the benefit of rice trade.

Mr. Abdul Rahim Janoo successfully organized first Memon Leadership Conference (MLC) during 17thto 19thJanuary 2020 attended by elite business community of Pakistan as well as more than100 delegates & Memon leaders from 18 countries of the world. Governor Punjab, Governor Sindh and various federal ministers were chief guest of various sessions of MLC. Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan was the chief guest in concluding session of MLC on 19th Jan 2020.

PAGE: How would you comment on food security in Pakistan in the prevailing pandemic and lockdowns?

Abdul Rahim Janoo: Alhamdulillah, it is the mercy of Almighty Allah that Pakistan has been blessed with all kind of agricultural/food and other commodities. Pakistanis enriched with rice, wheat, sugar, corn, spices etc. and are very much liked around the globe. Pakistani companies have a strong marketing network spread all across the country and worldwide. With well equipped, modern and state-of-the-art infrastructure, they have the necessary expertise and backbone to meet any scale of demand for any sector. They have vast experience in procurement, storage, processing and supply of the agricultural commodities ensuring food security in Pakistan in the prevailing circumstances of pandemic and lockdown. Further, Federal and Provincial governments are also taking necessary measures with the focus to assure availability of all food commodities to the people of Pakistan.

PAGE: How would you describe the economy of Pakistan tackling pandemic?

Abdul Rahim Janoo: It is a matter of fact the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all nations in approximately more than 200 countries around the globe including Pakistan. The pandemic has also taken a devastating blow on the Pakistani economy. Keeping in view the population density, healthcare capacity, existing poverty and environmental factors, transmission of the coronavirus happened rapidly in Pakistan as well. Although, government has taken pandemic impediment measures like lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions to minimize the impact upon the livelihoods of millions of people. As per my expectations, Pakistan is projected to experience a broad economic recovery in fiscal year 2021. As per the reports of World Bank and Asian Development Bank, the economy is showing signs of improvement and recovery, as Pakistan has achieved notable success in containing the dual health and economic challenge presented by Covid-19. According to a statement by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Pakistan is expected to receive record remittance inflows of up to $28 billion this year. This comes as initiatives launched by the government and the Central Bank to facilitate overseas workers, which have started yielding positive results despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

PAGE: There are plenty of concerns about inflation and dismal investment prospects. What is your take on these issues?

Abdul Rahim Janoo: As we see that rising food prices pushed inflation rate higher since last two years, i.e. fiscal years 2019 and 2020. However, with the efforts of government inflation rate is on declining trend but still it is high on average. As inflationary pressures eased, the State Bank of Pakistan has maintained the policy rate at 7.0 percent and introduced additional measures to support the economic recovery. President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi recently congratulated the nation for its “victory” against Covid-19, saying that the government successfully saved the country’s poorest from the financial impact of the pandemic. Ehsaas Program and BISP have been used by Government of Pakistan as tools for dissemination of cash directly to the most affected.

Pakistan needs an investment strategy response in order to reverse some of the post Covid-19 distress on investment and trade. As per the overview of World Bank, investment is also estimated to be recovering, as machinery imports and cement sales both recorded double-digit growth rates during this period. Government of Pakistan may take necessary steps as a preliminary strategy response for attracting investment into Pakistan. While government has for the past several years focused on export-led growth; however, Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerability of betting only on trade and disregarding investment with loss in the GDP. The often separately considered topics of trade and investment must be thought about as one if Pakistan is to build the economy of the future.

PAGE: Do you think our health sector is well equipped?

Abdul Rahim Janoo: Initially, Pakistan lacked “standard operating procedures,” and the government had to ship testing kits from China and Japan. Moreover, due to violations of the lockdown and standard operating procedures (SOPs), the rapidly increasing number of cases created a burden on the healthcare system. More and more, this pandemic and its impact have grown. Preventive measures are highly effective to prevent its rapid spread but for these to be helpful, influential policies must be taken for appropriate health education of people. This pandemic has severely affected some countries and their healthcare systems have reached the point of exhaustion. The current scenario of disease transmission in Pakistan is of greater concern. Moreover, developing countries were comparatively more vulnerable to the healthcare crisis, and Pakistan was unable to overcome this briskly growing pandemic. I strongly feel that all provincial authorities and government officials must ensure better security provided to healthcare professionals, spreading awareness campaigns and addressing the fear of citizens. Hospital staff must be given utmost protection at all cost before this pandemic could wreak havoc in the healthcare system in terms of infections and fatalities. Government must act responsibly in educating the public and ensuring the fact that its message must lay out the fact that there is no guarantee that Pakistan’s numbers will remain lower than in the West. After positive test results of Covid-19, quarantine and social distancing must be aggressively implemented.

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