KARACHI: A team from The World Bank visited the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) to devise ways for Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) and then advising feasible options to the government.
The World Bank Team, which was led by Ms. Namoos Zaheer, Senior Financial Sector Analyst – Finance Competitiveness & Innovation, comprised of Marius Vismantas Lead Financial Sector Specialist and Amjad Bashir Senior Economist – Trade & Competitiveness South Asia while President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President Khurram Shahzad, Vice President Asif Sheikh Javaid and KCCI Managing Committee members also attended the meeting.
Ms. Namoos Zaheer, while referring to the issues of Karachi as per World Bank’s report “Transforming Karachi into a Livable and Competitive Megacity: A City Diagnostic and Transformation Strategy”, stated that this report has pointed out that Karachi needs around US$10 billion in financing over a 10-year period to meet its infrastructure and service-delivery needs in urban transport, water supply & sanitation and municipal solid waste. There is a threat to livability in Karachi which has been acting as the engine for growth, she added.
She was of the opinion that Pakistan needs around 7 to 8 percent growth rate in order to create two million jobs for the youth entering the job market and in this regard, Karachi has to play the lead role but unfortunately, the city has been neglected for a very long period of time.
She informed that the World Bank is funding several service delivery projects in Karachi like yellow line, water project and urban management. There is a need to maximize finance for development by efficiently utilizing the existing limited resources of the government which would yield much greater results.
She further stressed that there was a need to mobilize the private sector to achieve the objective of maximizing finance for development while tax to GDP should be at least 15 percent in order to enable the government to ensure availability of basic needs to the citizens. Karachi is the country’s financial and economic hub, generating 12–15 percent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP), and is a powerhouse of manufacturing employment in the country.
WB asked the business and industrial community of Karachi Chamber that as the Government holds plenty of spare land, the business community collaborate with the government and the said land can be used to attract investment from the private sector like setting up hotels to attract tourism. In response, President KCCI stated that keeping in view the past experience of working with the government and cumbersome procedures, the businesses will be reluctant to come forward to invest with the government due to institutional fragmentation and red-tapism.
Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda highlighted the issues that need to be resolved in Karachi including infrastructure requirements, inculcating good governance and tax complexities. He said that the infrastructure of the city continues to deteriorate with each passing day as the city was constantly ignored and Karachi has not received the kind of attention it deserves. Infrastructure in the city needs immediate attention and should be upgraded to facilitate economic growth and business activities.
He informed that Karachi and its surrounding coastal areas have a large amount of vacant land which could be used for development or to house energy projects. Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project has long been delayed due to financing issues therefore, the initiatives taken under MFD can also be used to fund this project, he suggested.
“One more initiative which would develop the city and its people would be to use the long coastal belt to develop desalination plants. This will enhance the overall living conditions in the city, especially with its fast approaching water crisis. For this a Public Private Partnership model needs to be developed in such a manner that the private investors get full assurance for healthy return on investment”, he added.