Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Arain, Chairman MIA Group of Companies
Engineering Post: It is a popular belief that Pakistan economy has never been managed in accordance with needs of the country and general economic principles. Had it been, we would have not been in the quagmire, we are in today, deep into, where on times our survival becomes a question mark. The successive government incompetency, political instability and insight of rulers are definitely possible reasons for the poor performance, but the onus of failure lies as much on bureaucracy and associated government institutions as much on our political leadership. Why it happened, who is responsible and what is the antidote? We asked this question to Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Arain, Chairman MIA Group of Companies, who is in the business for almost three decades. Let’s listen to him, how he is seeing the whole situation and what he has to suggest in overcoming the present dilemma confronting Pakistan.
- Ashraf Arain: The present Government has embarked upon an ambitious journey “documentation of economy”; there is no doubt in it being a good step and in the right direction, but it is too much of a quantum to be digested by the business community unable to fathom the magnitude of chaos, our economy has been in there for such a long time.. Mr. Ashraf shared his views with ‘Engineering Post’ recently in his Islamabad office.
According to him undocumented or informal or grey economy in developing countries soars up to 70% and around 60% of world workforce population is living in informal or grey economy. According to him undocumented economy is not all the bad thing as it is often stigmatized. It is of course, troublesome and unmanageable, but it is providing critical economic opportunities for the poor. Integrating the informal economy into the formal sector is an important policy challenge, and he sees government action as too brisk at pace and not well thought out. The missing thing he finds in present documentation process is “First thing first” rule.
The historically people in all societies adjust their activity within economic systems in attempt to evade regulations. He thinks the taxation in Pakistan was already high over and above and indiscriminate. The government didn’t have discrete taxation plan for all income groups. If we look back the successive government preferred to increase the tax ratio instead of widening the tax-net. This has been very damaging and especially the most of the revenue is coming from manufacturing sector. The present government intentions are to widen the tax collection, but the steps being taken may depreciate its efforts, Mr. Ashraf feared.
The tax evasion is a trait which has not been curtailed even in developed countries. Pakistan is a heaven from tax evasion point of view and the reason is dishonesty at all levels of society. He is also of the opinion that government shall encourage public to manage their tax liability instead of evasion. Mr. Ashraf suggests that government shall encourage businessmen to enter into manufacturing by reducing the number of direct and indirect taxation on finished products and undue high regulatory duty. The government will be benefitted in two ways – reducing unemployment and increasing tax net. Imports should be reduced, but without damaging the industry and stifling economic growth. The best way for this is to offer local substitutes first by establishing local industry first and gradually reducing imports. HVAC industry has lot of growth potential, we need to move toward manufacturing, every component used in an air-conditioner is in itself an industry. We can have a dozen of separate industries in making air-conditioner.
Mr. Ashraf Arrain has been in the industry for decades and his wisdom and business acumen is respected even by his competitors. He is a diehard patriot who prefers the prosperity of the country over his own. Discussing the progress and future of HVACR industry, he was highly optimistic of its growth in the coming years. He foresees that if government looks into the matter a bit more sensibly and seriously, the imports, manufacturing and exports of Pakistan can turn the wheel of Pakistan economy very positively in the coming years.
The product of Mr. Ashraf Arain’s passion and endeavors as an entrepreneur, we see today is “MIA Group of Companies”; from a humble beginning of Compressors selling turned into one of leading HVAC solution provider. The group interests have diversified into project management, O&M services, energy, textile and fast food chains. MIA believes in innovative products with a competitive edge. Their building blocks are responsibility, quality, product ownership, customer satisfaction, employee’s career development, their health & safety and over and above all a culture of conscience, dedication and honesty is fostered at every work place.
Commenting on the company policy, he said that we accept challenges, maintain well-being in the workplace and promote “not being tense” for quality output. We try to seek best human resource for satisfied clients and outstanding products. Replying to a question asking advice for today’s entrepreneurs, he said “Remember: Foresight, strategy and preparedness gives success”. Our customers ask us to do great things and we do.