Monday Jun 06, 2022
LAHORE: One of Pakistan's most renowned business magnates, Mian Muhammad Mansha Yahya, has stated that while the current Shehbaz Sharif-led government has already made some tough decisions in difficult circumstances, it will have to swallow a few more bitter pills in the coming days.
Speaking during Geo News programme Naya Pakistan, hosted by Shahzad Iqbal, the popular industrialist stated: "I think things will improve in a few months. The day the government decided to increase the price of petrol, I noticed a decrease in the volume of traffic on the roads. People are no longer travelling unnecessarily, demonstrating a great deal of wisdom".
"This thinking pattern will surely reduce our oil consumption. I have suggested to government functionaries to give hope to the masses. Despite all the difficulties our people are embracing, I can see light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
The noted business magnate, whose business group holds stakes ranging from cement, power, banking, and automobiles to insurance and textiles, and whose media appearances are a rarity, added: "Today, the world’s largest airports are being run by the private sector. We can also take a leaf out of their book and privatise the Lahore Airport, for instance, and this can be done within three months. Private sector control of airports would enhance the public’s comfort levels".
Mansha asserted: "Steps like privatisation will change the whole perception of the country and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will automatically follow as investors will get signals that Pakistan is well poised on the road to recovery. Privatisation holds the key, I repeat. Why can not we sell Ghazi Barotha Hydro Power Dam? Do road shows etc to find prospective buyers. Similarly, a lot of work has already been completed on Kalabagh Dam. Feasibility reports are ready, and so are the colonies for workers. We need to evolve a political consensus on it.
"Convince its critics that it is imperative to build it in order to prevent precious water to the tune of dozens of millions of acre feet from flowing into the sea, totally unutilised! Suppose this happens, and what a huge deal it would be for all of us. I also urge the establishment to ensure this dam is completed. Pakistani companies may not be of the same size as India’s Reliance, but they are capable of doing what this conglomerate does across the border. There is no dearth of will or ability here. Bring private investors to the fore now that the NAB issue has been resolved. Win their confidence. Harassment will, of course, no longer be the order of the day."
He maintained: "We need foreign exchange, and without exports, I do not foresee any economic salvation greeting us in the future." We will have to attract FDI. When our government delegation recently visited Saudi Arabia, Prince Salman reportedly urged the visitors to initiate some solid reforms instead of seeking financial assistance every now and then. The monarch said his country wanted to invest $30 to $40 billion in Pakistani industries. On the contrary, Prince Salman has injected $7.5 billion into India’s Reliance Industries, owned by Mukesh Ambani. This group’s revenues will have reached over $100 billion in 2022. Saudi Arabia has announced plans to invest $100 billion in India, and has already done 40 percent of it."
Mian Mansha opined that if Pakistan wanted the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and other equity investors, etc, to assist it, it would have to be a part of the IMF programme. "Our growth rate should not be less than 10 per cent. Even down-trodden Ethiopia is achieving this target. The Philippines has elected a new President, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, and his family is tainted with corruption allegations. On the third day, he received a felicitation message from US President Joe Biden because the system in the country was moving. Let the system move and ills like corruption can be tackled. America also had mafias like steel in its early days," he said.
The rail-road mafia was also very active, and so were the oil cartels, but its forefathers went ahead with development, the industrialist said, adding that there is a lot of talk going on in the UK regarding misappropriation in the acquisition of corona vaccines, but the system moves on.
"If our politicians keep trading barbs on television screens daily, the perception of corruption will build. Our primary issue is incompetence, not corruption," he said.
He added that to attract investment, the private sector will have to do aggressive marketing and the government will have to provide a conducive atmosphere. "Foreign investors should be allowed to repatriate profits at will without a glitch or hurdle. Make them feel at home," he said.