PESHAWAR   -  Kohat Textile Mills Limited Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Asad Saifullah Khan has called for easing of doing business to attract investment and generate employment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Talking to the media at his residence, he appreciated the Industrial Policy 2016 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. However, he termed it a little vague, saying that the incentives offered in that policy were too broad-based and required further refinement.

Saifullah also showed concern on the lack of awareness of the new industrial policy among the stakeholders, saying that investors are still unaware of the establishment of Special Economic Zones. He proposed further broadening the extent of the existing industrial policy, offering better incentives like steeper discount on electricity (at least 50%) to have a more meaningful impact of the policy.

He recalled that back in early 90s several kind of incentives were offered to investors in Gadoon Industrial Estate and that attracted investors from all over the country. Even though those incentives were withdrawn within a period of two years, but the businessmen that had invested continued their businesses. He said incentives on similar pattern should be offered again to promote economic activities in the province.

Asad, who is also former chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) KP Zone, said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a gas surplus province but instead of getting cheaper gas, it is being levied with the imposition of GIDC (Gas Infrastructure Development Cess) that has increased the cost of production of the textile units in the province. He called for immediate withdrawal of such anti-investment measures to ensure that doing business in the province remains a viable proposition.

He also showed deep concern over recent currency devaluation, saying that earlier the PKR value was kept high artificially and now was suddenly devalued. Such currency shocks have truly shaken the investor confidence in Government policies.

Therefore, the financial managers of the state should come forward to bring dollar-rupee parity at realistic levels and avoid further devaluation. He said that an earlier resolution of the energy crisis issue will trigger industrial development not only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but across the country.

He said that due to its geography and long distance from the seaport, an auto-manufacturing plant is not feasible in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But, on the other hand we are blessed with rich natural resources like gas and mining sectors that haven’t been fully tapped as yet.

Asad urged the government to focus on the development of the gas and mining sectors and work for hydel solutions to meet the challenge of energy shortage. He also proposed transforming DI Khan Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa into a logistics hub of the region. The rehabilitation of existing DI Khan Airport can prove instrumental in developing not only air freight market in the region but also serving the thousands of expat workers in Middle East through direct flight facilities.

Regarding the future plans of the Saif Group of Companies, Assad said that they are going for further expansion of both Saif Textile Mills and Kohat Textile Mills and particular the latter to create employment opportunities for the locals. He also hinted at increasing the network of the Kulsum International Hospital which provides state of the art treatment facilities to the patients of cardiovascular diseases.

Asad Saifullah, who is also the Honorary Consul General of Czech Republic at Peshawar, said that he is also in contact with Czech investors for investment in the province and utilize the expertise in ceramics, auto-spare parts and leather industries.

To a question regarding incentive package for the merged districts of erstwhile FATA and its impact on the industries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said that the area had been ignored for a long period of time and purpose of the proposed package will help in mainstreaming of the region. He suggested imparting vocational training to the youth of merged districts and promoting industries in the areas.

For the development of his native district, Lakki Marwat, he said that the construction of Kurram Tangi Dam has been a long dream of his elders, which is now, Alhamdulillah, on the path of fulfillment. He said that the construction of the dam will change the face of the province and turn more than 0.3mn acre barren land into cultivable fertile land.