“Economy must be a common subject of all political stake holders. Once decided the goals, aims and targets to remain unchanged till achieved. Political dierences must be kept apart from national economic agenda.”
Vice Chairman Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment & Trade
Mr. Aziz happens to be one of the most enigmatic entrepreneurs of the country. He is presently heading the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BOIT) as Vice Chairman. He has served as a Director on board of the State Bank of Pakistan for two terms 2003-2006 & 2006-2009 and Director on board of Pakistan Petroleum Limited. He has remained as the Chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) for two terms 1999-2000 & 2011-2012. In this capacity, his eorts for the textile sector have been acknowledged nationally. He has remained on the board of Habib Bank Ltd., one of the largest banks in Pakistan, as well as President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and industry (SCCI) now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI) for the period 1987-1988.
EVOLVE: You are an industrialist by profession. How are you converting and transforming your experience and learning to meet the need of this challenging role?
Mohsin Aziz: Being an industrialist I was working and making money for myself but being head of KP-BOIT I am working for my country and my people. That is one aspect of this challenging role. What I have learnt being an industrialist, is helping me a lot while fulfilling the role of heading KP-BOIT. I better understand the limitations of government and industrialist or investor. It helps me to manage the obstacles come through the way. Although in different tenures I also had served as minister and members of various boards yet I believe that leadership plays a decisive role to set your track. Now we in true sense are translating our experience into benefits for a common man by addressing their needs and ensuring merit and transparency.
EVOLVE: You had the experience of leading trade association including APTMA and SCCI and now motivating the investors to invest in KP. Please share the challenges and achievements of this journey?
Mohsin Aziz: There is never a challenge free role in your life. You have to fight and prove yourself. Being associated with APTMA and chamber, it was challenging in the sense that we were struggling for the survival of a sector and a community means business community but to motivate an investor to invest in public sector especially in a province that is the target and victim of terrorism is really a test of your abilities. Again I will say that we have made it happen. Investors are coming and investing in KPK. There is a long list of projects but the real challenge we have met is “Trust Retention” that KPK is peaceful and ideal destination to invest. As far as our policy is concerned we are heading with project specific approach, rather than tending towards sector. This decision is its self quite challenging in its implementation.
EVOLVE: When we talk about investment in KP the first thing comes in mind is ‘investment protection’. What policy KP-BoIT has opted, to address the subject as this is the point from where game begins?
Mohsin Aziz: Investment protection can definitely be a prime concern of any investor but if there is a proper legal framework with comprehensive working and then biggest of all the WILL to do is also there, then investor feels himself a fortunate one to invest. As I have mentioned earlier that the management of the province is quite different from the past ones. There are reforms everywhere and you will feel a turned around almost in every department. All policies are people oriented and core focus is to facilitate the people of KPK. All mean to say is that when the environment is people friendly the investor will automatically gain the confidence. With passage of time we have controlled the crimes and terrorism. Everything is transparent and clear. Nothing can be hidden or kept secret.International Road Show in Dubai has attracted many investors.
Now we are planning to repeat this exercise in UK very soon. In Pakistan local business groups have signed many projects in tourism sector. I do not mean to say that everything is perfect and fine in KPK but the situation has positively been changed a lot.
EVOLVE: Do you believe that without political stability any country can ensure its economic growth? If so, then how a re you coping with this reality in KP?
Mohsin Aziz: There is no second opinion about this claim. Political stability and economy move side by side. It is very simple ‘No Peace- No Investment’. Economy must be a common subject of all political stake holders. Once decided the goals, aims and targets to remain unchanged till achieved. Political differences must be kept apart from national economic agenda. Common strategy must be opted to deal with international financial organizations. In KPK we are strictly focusing on political stability. To us political stability means ‘Delegation of Power to Gross Route Level’. It gives people the sense of ownership and trust on political system. In current local bodies’ election in KPK, people of KPK have been handed over the powers of changing their fate with their own will.
EVOLVE: What do you think that up to what extent GSP Plus status would help to strengthen Pakistan’s economy?
Mohsin Aziz: This is a great incentive. With this initiative European Union (EU) has opened the gates of her market for Pakistani exporters. Pakistan can get a huge benefit if Government provides continuous gas and electricity to industry. A lot to be done at awareness side too, as textile sector is considered to be the prime beneficiary of this incentive as textiles and garments sector of Pakistan is facing solid competition from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Pakistan’s qualification as a GSP+ beneficiary country would put it in a tremendously advantageous position because China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are not eligible for GSP+. It is not surprising that the main beneficiary of the GSP+ scheme would be the Textiles and Garments sector but leather and leather articles, footwear, plastics, ethanol, fresh and processed fruits etc also have the potential to take the advantage of duty free access.
EVOLVE: Pakistan is running short of gas. How can KPBOIT convince an industrialist to come and invest in this situation? Is current government working with federal government to improve the scenario?
Mohsin Aziz: Although Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is net exporter of gas to other provinces and with new reserves of gas were being exploited. Whereas KP is presently producing surplus gas approximately 100 MMCFD. We expect to grow gas production to 200 MMCFD by end of 2016. Yet, due to moratorium place by Federal government, and surge in prices of gas, like imposition of “Gas Infrastructure Development Cess”, the advantage of KP has been eroded, while issue was taken up by provincial government and KP-BOIT at appropriate forum and occasion to lift moratorium and allow new connection of gas to industries and captive power. Also the price mechanism is being discussed to bring down it lower in order to enable KP to full avail the God-gifted natural gas in the province.
EVOLVE: Please share that how China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can be claimed to be “Game Changer”?
Mohsin Aziz: The Pak-China Trade route has to bring benefit to all units of Federation. It should speak a national language. Work must be carried on the project as original plan, and decided earlier. Also, it should be main emphasis on exploring new avenues of investments in various sectors, particularly in Hydel power generation projects.
EVOLVE: How do you perceive and foresee the economic growth of Pakistan with special perspective of KP?
Mohsin Aziz: The Pakistani economy has been projected to have a growth rate of 4.2 per cent for the out-going fiscal year, which ended on June 30, as the government has missed the ambitious target of 5.1 per cent it had set itself. The current quagmire economy can be boosted up by overcoming with current energy crisis to flourish local industries, which to be expanded export of locally manufacturing products. Exports have failed to rise the way they could have and constant changes in policy is a huge impediment. All sectors, including automobile, textile and agriculture, have lamented the frequent changes in policies as the core reason for their lack of growth.
The power crisis is another clichéd reason but a major one nevertheless. The government needs to identify the problems impeding growth in various sectors and then develop the political will to eradicate them; otherwise, the Pakistani economy reaching its true potential will remain a dream.KP can play pivotal role in economic growth, it provides level playing fields to businesses and industries, by the Federal Government and equitable distribution of funds and resources, managing with energy crisis, and to grow the export.
EVOLVE: What motivates you?
Mohsin Aziz: Sincerity and dedication is what keep me going on and on. These two are fuel to productivity. If there is no sincerity there is no success and absence of dedication fails you to achieve goals. Being head of KP-BOIT there are day to day challenges to which I meet with sincerity and dedication.
EVOLVE: If you talk about a person from the history, who would be and why?
Mohsin Aziz: None but Father of the Nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He was a true Leader. He on one hand competed with cunning Hindus and on the other hand faced sharp Britishers. He was clear in his objectives, transparent in his practices and focused on his targets. He never broke the law and even did not encourage others to do so.
EVOLVE: Any Message for EVOLVE?
Mohsin Aziz: Be sincere, dedicated, and honest with your profession. My great wishes are also for EVOLVE for its success and gain of objectives.
“The Pak-China Trade route has to bring benefit to all units of Federation. It should speak a national language”