- Need to boost the govt-people system of trust
- Ventures in real estate overseas likely
- The country’s potential IT workforce must exploit avenues for earnings
Interview with Mr. Hamad Rasool Bhullar, an analyst
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please:
HRB: I have been working for both the private and public sectors over the last 32 years in multiple roles with almost 27 years in professional training. With respect to my work with the financial sector, I have been involved in research and training for almost 27 years so far, and conducted over 350 pieces of training on different aspects of Finance, Business Ethics, Audit and Corporate Governance from basic concepts to professional applications in Projects Finance, Shariah Compliant risk management, investment management and Financial Analysis etc.
In addition to freelance consultancy and Financial Advisory in these fields, I remained a non-executive member on the Board of an Investment Bank for almost 4 years. My qualifications and experience over the last 32 years have mainly been in Accountancy, Corporate Law, IT, Economics, Corporate Finance and Islamic Finance, Takaful, Business Turnarounds, Projects Finance, Audit & Ethics with training and business advisory in multiple areas of the corporate sector as well as a public sector within and outside Pakistan.
I also have the privilege of the issuance of the first Sukuk in Pakistan’s Investment Canvas with some other first such initiatives.
PAGE: What is your perspective about the investment outlook in 2023?
HRB: As you know that 2023 is going to be a year of general elections in Pakistan, so predicting any clear picture seems quite tricky, however, considering the dynamic population and ever-growing urge to get stronger in the minds of our youth, I am quite hopeful.
Social media and other channels have facilitated the youth to gain a level of learning, that formal education is unable to provide. We are seeing a growing number of youth becoming entrepreneurs bringing more and more financial, intellectual and physical investment. For I can see a great future coming up with a competitive attitude. They are setting examples for newcomers into the market bringing more potential for investment.
Although we are also seeing a huge amount of housing and real-estate bubble, which can be dangerous for the industry as well as agriculture, as some economists are predicting a serious shortage of food items in the coming years as more and more agricultural land is being lost to real estates sector, besides that we can see a handsome amount of investments coming from overseas Pakistanis into real estate sector bring foreign exchange, which has declined a bit due to political and transparency turmoil in the country.
I assure you, please give the people they trust in the system and justice, treat them as equals and investment will flow into Pakistan as never before. We are getting more and more awareness of Environment related issues and the highest investment required is in Human capital and the Environment which is inevitable now.
PAGE: How would you comment on saving in the wake of inflationary pressures, particularly in 2023?
HRB: Apparently, we see a dreary situation in the economy, and after the return of Mr. Ishaq Dar to the driving seat of Pakistan’s Financial turmoil situation, people are hugely optimistic, and rightly so because he has a past record of handling a difficult situation.
As a matter of fact, the current government has made the non-resident Pakistanis a bit annoyed by abolishing their right to vote, which many have stopped sending in their financial savings/investments to Pakistan, instead they are investing their savings around their countries of residence and this has shown in Pakistan’s remittances performance over the last few months.
The Government of Pakistan has to take some daring steps to win those loyal Pakistanis as the earliest and as I said earlier, we need to build a trust bridge between the masses and the Government which is getting unavoidable in the current communication age.
The biggest challenge at the moment is saving the rupee from further slide than savings itself, if we are able to stop this slide, we are able to create savings. Further to that, I believe that we need to create a savings-oriented attitude among our masses, with an ability to convert those savings into investments. As I have always been told that an artificial show-off is just a waste of resources and discourages savings and investments.
PAGE: What is your anticipation about investment in Pakistan a couple of years down the line?
HRB: Great point! As we have seen a decline in savings over the last few months, not only in Pakistan but all around the world, investments have also declined but the past in this case does not reflect the future.
As a matter of fact, we are a difficult nation to be trained and tamed. Every Pakistani is eager to enhance his disposable income, and add value to investment assets, but we are mostly off target due to a lack of planning in it. We have spending temptations, on the other hand as Warren Buffet has set his principles of wise financial attitude, we must spend only that leftover part of our disposable income after having met our investment targets.
However, I have always been hopeful about our nation, full of capability and surprises, the recent example has been our attitude during the Covid-19 crisis, our nation surprised the world through our responsible behaviors and Allah blessed us during those very difficult times. I see a very bright picture a couple of years down the line.
PAGE: What impact could the Russia-Ukraine conflict have on remittances received by Pakistan?
HRB: It is a tricky game here, as a matter of fact, it seems that Europe and NATO itself have gotten trapped by putting forth sanctions on Russia, while the entire world is facing inflationary pressure. It is not about the fuel and gas supplies alone, it is also driving food prices, and energy prices and causing almost every sector of the global economy. Previously we were facing an entire supply chain system disturbed causing multiple increases in cargo and shipping costs, adding fuel to the fire is this Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Our remittances have also got a dent, especially where non-resident Pakistanis are facing this inflationary pressure due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, their savings have declined and so is their volume of remittances. As I have said, our Pakistanis are gifted with a talent to be able to find opportunities out of crisis even, within a year our remittances will show great signs of improvement. In addition, our IT workforce is going to find great potential and exploit avenues for earnings and can help convert them into foreign exchange earnings.