Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, while accusing all politicians for numerous crises being faced by the country, stated that it was really unfortunate that well-educated and competent people do not participate in the elections or make any attempt to come up at the helm of the affairs which brings those incompetent and undeserving people to take charge of the seat who simply don’t deserve it which is the basic reason for the issues being faced by the country.
Chairman BMG gave these remarks at the 59th Annual General Meeting of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) which was also attended by Vice Chairmen BMG Tahir Khaliq, Zubair Motiwala, Anjum Nisar (Via Zoom), General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, newly elected President KCCI Shariq Vohra, newly elected Senior Vice President Saquib Goodluck, newly elected Vice President Shamsul Islam, retiring President Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, retiring Senior Vice President Arshad Islam, retiring Vice President Shahid Ismail, Former Presidents, KCCI Managing Committee and General Body Members.
Siraj Teli, while strongly criticizing all the governments for always having step motherly treatment with Karachi, said, “We have been constantly raising our voice for the rights of Karachi and have been highlighting the serious infrastructure issues which was already in bad shape and it became worst after the recent rainfalls. Consequently, although the government has announced Rs1100 billion Karachi Package but keeping in view the size, population and rising number of issues all over Karachi, Rs1100 billion package to be spent in next three years, is not sufficient. The government should have instead announced Rs11,000 billion for the next three years which, if given, would definitely improve the infrastructure situation.
He was of the opinion that the Business & Industrial community of Karachi was confronting many other issues as well particularly Sales Tax, Excise and GIDC issues etc. but electricity has become the most serious issue nowadays which has been triggered due to gas shortages. “Sindh produces 73 percent of country’s total gas but hardly receive around 35 to 40 percent which is against the Constitution of Pakistan as the Article 158 says that the province has first right to use its natural resources including gas”, he said and strongly criticized Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan who recently uttered to forget the Article 158 of the Constitution in a TV Channel program.
Highlighting the successful journey of Businessmen Group, Siraj Teli said that thanks to the overwhelming support extended by the business & industrial community, BMG has successfully completed 23 years at KCCI and it was really heartening to see that BMG candidates have never lost a single seat during all these years by overpowering their opponents in various elections from time to time while many elections were triumphed unopposed. Referring to the elections held in 2018, he said, “It was a huge election in which our opponents were being supported by some heavyweights like S.M. Muneer, Aqeel Karim Dhedhi and a few others but they all were terribly defeated with double the votes which became possible only because we dedicatedly and honestly served the entire business community during the last two decades.”
While congratulating the newly elected Office Bearers, he advised them to work honestly, give maximum time to the Chamber and dedicatedly serve the business & industrial community and also the Karachiites under BMG’s policy of Public Service. “The office bearers are free to do whatever they find fit for the betterment of business community. You all must serve anyone who climbs KCCI’s stairs for assistance regardless of considering whether the person seeking assistance is our member or not. Even if any of our rival facing genuine issue comes forward to seek help, you will have to fully assist him under the policy of Public Service”, he added.
Appreciating the dedicated efforts made by retiring office bearers, he said that the retiring office bearers did a splendid job in an extraordinary situation because of the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown for a period of almost six months. “Despite facing a very difficult situation, we tried our best to bring some serious issues to notice by highlighting them in numerous meetings held via Zoom and also raised a very strong voice on TV Channels so that the business & industrial community could get some relief.”
In his remarks, Vice Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala pointed out that it is going to be a really challenging year for new office bearers and they will have to make a lot of efforts as it is being forecasted that the demand from western countries was likely to fall by 40 percent in post-COVID scenario which would have a terrible impact on the exporting countries including Cambodia, Vietnam, India, China, Sri Lanka and Pakistan who are the six major exporting countries supplying goods to western countries. “The reduction by 40 percent would lead to triggering price war and Pakistani exporters will have to become competitive by bringing down the manufacturing cost. We have to fight with the government for bringing down the cost at par with competitors otherwise we will lose our share in western countries.”
Vice Chairman BMG, while addressing the AGM via Zoom from Canada, advised the newly elected office bearers to focus on devising strategies for convincing the government to ensure ease of doing business as it was a matter of grave concern that Pakistan, even after 72 years of its existence, stands at 134 position in terms of ease of doing business.
General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil said, “2021 is going to be new experience for all of us as the entire world is now shifting to a new path hence, we will have to get prepared so that we could efficiently overcome all the challenges of the future otherwise we will be left far behind.”
Newly elected President KCCI Shariq Vohra, in his address, pointed out that Pakistan’s GDP by the end of 2020 will be US$270 billion dollars which was more than US$310 billion in 2018. Unfortunately, even in next three years by 2023, this will not reach more than US$280 billion which is really worrisome.
“It seems that crises are in the making as Pakistan is a country with 220 million people, of which 60 population is less than 30 years old and because of poor economic performance, a very limited number of employment opportunity were available to a huge chunk of population below 30 years of age. “Unemployment, depreciation of currency and stagnant economy are dangerous threats looming on our heads.”
“My endeavor would be to take KCCI’s voice to the corridors of the parliament. If they want to do something for Pakistan, it is very necessary to do something for Karachi which represents 10 percent of Pakistan’s and 36 percent of Sindh’s population and this city alone generates 70 percent revenue to the national exchequer and 95 percent revenue to provincial kitty”, he said.
Shariq Vohra stressed that Karachi must be given its share according to its population. This city must be given at least 10 percent from the national revenue and around 36 percent from the provincial revenue. “Don’t give us what we deserve but at least give us the share in proportion to our population which is our fundamental right.”
Retiring President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan highlighted all his efforts and achievements during 2020-21, a very difficult and an extraordinary year due to the outbreak of coronavirus, which terribly affected almost half of his tenure but despite the outbreak and subsequent lockdown, he tried his best to raise voice for providing relief to the business & industrial community.