LAHORE: The government should involve local construction industry for development activities in the country to reduce the cost of construction rather calling China, Turkey and other countries as the companies also depend on Pakistani human resource in project completion hired 90 to 95 percent of local manpower in project execution.
These views were expressed by the discussants in Jang Economic Session on ‘role of private sector in national development’, here on Wednesday. The panellists were Engineer Akbar Sheikh, Mian Fazal Ahmed, Ayub Izhar, Ch Habib Kanwal, Shadab Ali Khan and Arshad Dad while hosted by Sikandar Hameed Lodhi.
Akbar Sheikh said Pakistan has shortage of 8 million houses and to meet this annual one million houses required while only 0.35 million houses were being constructed. He said GDP growth could be increased by constructing only 100,000 houses while if construction of houses started under prime minister housing scheme, then it can increase GDP by 1.5 percent. He said the government earns Rs 300,000 in shape of taxes out of one million rupees spent on house construction; thus it will increase government revenues as well as solve the housing problem of the country. He said the government should focus on low cost housing while the bank should also be bound to provide housing finance.
Mian Fazal Ahmed said the government should facilitate the private sector as 90 percent of economy comprised of it. He believed that engineering sector could play pivotal role in national economic growth. He alleged that Engineering Development Board (EDB) failed to play its due role in engineering sector growth and restructuring of it on modern lines was crucial. Ayub Izhar said the construction industry was second largest employment generating sector after Agriculture so it should be facilitated. He believed construction industry can quickly bring economic growth and Pakistan is self-sufficient in this industry. He said Turkey, Malaysia and other countries facilitated their construction sector, so Turkish companies were working on more than $100 billion projects across the world. He said Pakistan should not depend on foreign companies in construction sector as these companies were transferring foreign exchange from Pakistan. Ch Habib Kanwal said Pakistan had great talent in every sector but it was directionless. He said status of industry to construction sector was limited to papers only while no facility was provided by the government to it. He believed that construction was growing on its own muscles while banking sector was not ready to finance it and cases were pending in courts since long, so the situation was harming the industry. He called for establishing special courts for construction industry on the pattern of banking courts so that pending cases could be resolved amicably.
Shadab Ali Khan said that construction industry’s image in government was negative and it supposed to be money minting industry. He suggested removing such impression professionally so that the people attached with this sector could get respect in the society. He said Pakistani experts are capable of constructing houses, highways and motorways while foreign companies also execute projects with local manpower. So there is a need to give right direction to this sector, he added. Arshad Dad said national growth was impossible without government backing to construction sector. He said India and Malaysia are examples of it while US had promoted construction industry for their economic growth. He called for establishing Construction Board in Planning Commission.