Efficacy can help Pakistan progress competently

Efficacy can help Pakistan progress competently

  • Under PM Imran Khan country will prosper and grow economically
  • Nation is much eager and anxious to celebrate 75th Independence Day

Interview of Mr. Zia ul Mustafa – President, ICMA Pakistan

PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please?

Zia ul Mustafa: I am currently the President of the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMA Pakistan) for a three-year term i.e. 2021-2023. I also served as the President of the South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) in the year 2020 and held the Chairmanship of the SAFA Committee on Governmental and Public Sector Enterprises Accounting. SAFA is a regional forum representing over 3,75,000 accountants having membership of the national chartered accountancy and cost and management accountancy institutions in the South Asian countries namely Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, Afghanistan. I also served as an elected Board Member of Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance (PICG) for three years and as a Member Board of Directors of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited with the additional responsibility of Chairman, Board Audit Committee for three years. I have professional exposure of almost twenty-five years in corporate and public sector organizations i.e. manufacturing, construction, services, banking, and education. Presently; I am serving as the CFO & Business Administrator of Pakistan Expo Centers Private Limited, a corporate entity owned by the Government of Pakistan with a mandate to develop, operate and promote Expo Centers in major cities of Pakistan. Earlier, I worked with Descon Engineering Ltd. as Financial Controller of the Mangla Dam Raising Project & Mirani Dam Project and with Rustam Group of Industries as GM Finance & Administration.

PAGE: There are different perspectives regarding the socio-economic progress of Pakistan since its independence. How do you see it?

Zia ul Mustafa: Pakistan has come a long way economically since its independence. In 1947, Pakistan inherited a weak economy without adequate industrial infrastructure; however, in the first 20 years after independence, Pakistan had the highest growth rate in South Asia. During the 1960s, robust economic growth was witnessed and Pakistan became one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. Some economic analysts at that time even tipped Pakistan to become the next Japan. The World Bank in one of its Reports (2002) mentions that in 1965, Pakistan exported more goods than the combined exports of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Turkey. The years ahead present a sorry picture of affairs. The economic fallout of the 1965 and 1971 wars; the separation of East and West Pakistan; followed by the nationalization of major industries, banking, insurance, education, etc. in 1972 caused a major disruption to the economy. These negative developments also shattered the confidence of the private sector which continued till the next twenty years or so. Subsequently, some good policies of deregulation, liberalization, and privatization were introduced by the successive government in the 1990s, however, the economy could not revert to the 1960s growth level due to innumerable factors such as political instability, frequent changes in government, poor economic management and increasing external debts.

One major development is that in 1947 the newly born country was dependent economically on its agricultural sector which contributed around 53% to GDP and its share in exports was almost 90 percent. However, over time, the country underwent a significant shift from an agrarian focus to a service-led economy. The services sector has replaced and surpassed the Agri sector as the dominant sector of the economy. Our IT sector especially is flourishing and earning valuable foreign exchange for the country. The Government has recently offered some lucrative incentives to the IT & ITeS industry which would stimulate our IT exports and promote new investments in this sector.

In short, we can say that despite odds, the Pakistan economy has progressed well and today it is almost 18 times larger than it was at independence in 1947 with an average annual growth rate of 4 percent. This average growth is impressive, though even during the past few decades, with a hope that despite the COVID challenges and with the consistent efforts and prudent policies of the Government, the economy would continue to progress on a consistent and sustainable basis.

The grey areas that still haunt the economy are the increasing level of poverty, unemployment, rising inflation which need to be tackled on a priority basis by the Government by allocations on social safety nets and industrial production. There is also a need to integrate the economy into the global economic system to reap maximum benefits. The fiscal and trade deficits also need to be brought down for achieving macroeconomic stability. The Government should focus on investing more in education, health, and infrastructure through PSDP projects and at the same time build skilled labor forces through training.

PAGE: How would you describe the industrial achievements of Pakistan since 1947?

Zia ul Mustafa: In 1947, Pakistan inherited only 34 industries out of 921 industrial units operating in British India which overall contributed only 7% of GDP and employed around 25,000 employees. These industries were small in size, based on indigenous raw material, and constituted sugar mills, cotton ginning factories, flour mills, rice-husking mills, canning factories, etc. The Jute and cotton industries supported the economy in the early stage of development and helped in increasing exports.

In 1952, Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) was formed which helped in boosting up industrial development by establishing over 50 industrial units all over the country. Subsequently, after successful operation and management, these units were transferred from the public to private sector. The share of the industrial sector to GDP rose from 9.7% in 1954-55 to 11.9% in 1959-60 as sufficient allocations were made in the first 5-year plan for the growth of the industrial sector. This resulted in not only expanding the production of existing units like jute, fertilizer, paper, etc. but also in setting up new industries like paints and varnishes, glass, worsted yarn, etc.

By 1963, Pakistan reached self-sufficiency in the production of aluminum and brass utensils, biscuits, cigarettes, razor blades, small diesel engines, bicycle tires & tubes, and some type of electric wire and cables. From 1960 to 1970, some heavy industries were established in the country which included machine tools, petrochemicals, iron and steel, electrical complex, etc.

The nationalization of major industries like ghee & oil, shipping, iron, and steel, basic metal, heavy engineering, automobiles, tractors, cement, oil & gas industries restricted the industrial growth. The privatization process started in the 1990s stimulated the growth of the industry. Although the privatization of industries had a mixed outcome, the privatized units in the sectors of power generation, cement, automobiles, and DFIs, showed impressive growth and productivity. At present, Pakistan’s industrial sector accounts for about 17% of GDP. Cotton textile production and apparel manufacturing are the largest industries, accounting for about 65% of merchandise exports. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has given a boost to the construction sector through the influx of infrastructural projects including highways, power plants, and dams. It is expected that this project will stimulate industrial growth in Pakistan and will also help in earning valuable foreign exchange. The private sector has played an instrumental role in the industrial growth of the country vis-à-vis the dominating role played by the Government in establishing the public sector organizations that are engaged in the manufacturing of different heavy engineering items and other essential products.

PAGE: Your views on the Independence Day celebrations this year vis-a-vis the preceding year:

Zia ul Mustafa: I think that despite the pandemic still hovering over us, this year the nation is much eager and anxious to celebrate the 75th independence day of the country with great zeal, enthusiasm, and in a befitting manner than the preceding year when the nation had to celebrate this auspicious day in a restricted way amid the COVID-outbreak. This year the situation is much better and well under control. In every nook and corner of the country, arrangements are in full swing to hold different physical events to mark the occasion amid strict compliance of SOPs against coronavirus. Here, I must put on record the sagacious policies of the Government in taking excellent precautionary measures like smart lockdowns to restrict the widespread of the virus, which has been hailed globally. The independence day celebrations this year are coinciding with the holy month of Muharram so it is expected that the celebrations would be held in a limited manner to observe the sanctity of the holy month. The message that this day gives to us is to promote patriotism and national unity. ICMA Pakistan is also going to celebrate the independence day of Pakistan by arranging flag-hoisting ceremonies at all its nation-wide campuses amid strict compliance with social distancing measures. These ceremonies are to be arranged in collaboration with the local branch councils of the Institute and would be participated by the office-bearers, council members, members, faculty, and staff of the Institute to express their love and affection with their motherland.

PAGE: Your views on the image of Pakistan in the global arena?

Zia ul Mustafa: Well, it would not be better to comment on how the international world looks at our country from their own prisms as this is altogether based on their expectations from us and their own vested political and economic interests. I would suffice myself to the only state that in the realm of the foreign and diplomatic arena, our country has been endeavoring hard to project itself globally as a peace-loving, responsible, dynamic, and moderate society. The Pakistani people are recognized globally as diligent, hardworking, and skilled workforce and a majority of them are serving abroad for since long. Many Pakistani nationals are serving at high profile positions like parliamentarian and cabinet members in the United Kingdom, the USA, and other countries which speak volumes for our good international image. Our sportsmen are welcomed and liked by sports lovers in various countries around the globe. Having said that, there is no doubt that we need concerted and serious efforts to improve the positive and soft image of Pakistan internationally, as some negative perceptions we are being projected about Pakistan by the vested elements for defamation and to belittle its global role in the eyes of the world community.

A good foreign policy supported by international media policy needs to be crafted to deal with this negative international perception and to highlight Pakistan’s true image globally. At the same time, we also need to undertake soft power efforts to correct these perceptions and project our positive socio-economic attributes and rich heritage of arts, civilization, culture, and attractive tourist places. It is a good omen for the country that the present leadership of Pakistan in the shape of Prime Minister Imran Khan, our country is emerging with a new identity and as a responsible nation.

The Asian World UK ranked 10 politicians from across the globe who had worked hard to overcome the effects of the virus against the citizens and PM Imran Khan was declared the top politician in this list who successfully mitigated the impact of COVID-19 in the country. Similarly, PM Imran Khan has been chosen amongst the top 10 global leaders to showcase climate action at the high-level “Climate Action Summit” hosted by the UK Government, which is currently the chair of the global climate negotiations process. We wish him all the best and hope that under his dynamic leadership the image of Pakistan would improve to new heights and Pakistan would prosper and grow economically in the times to come.

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