The worst is over, let’s prepare for the bright future

In conversation with Engr.Tahir Sultan
Chairman Pakistan Society of Civil Engineers
Chief Executive Firm Decon International (Pvt) Ltd

Keeping alive the tradition of bringing authentic and first hand views of market experts for our readers, Engineering Post had an exclusive interview with Engr. Tahir Sultan Chairman Society of Civil Engineers and Chief Executive of Firm Decon International (Pvt) Ltd.

Engr Tahir Sultan shared his insights about how the market is coping with the economic conditions. He said ” It is true things are very tough right now but everyone is very hopeful for a revival of the market by the start of next year”

While commenting on the unpredictable situation created by COVID-19 he said. “Credit should be given where it’s due. The government has done a commendable job of controlling the spread of COVID-19. I believe they also understand the immediate need for the revival of economic activity in the country. In the past few weeks the government has signed multiple hydropower projects in addition to approving the construction for more than half a dozen motorways in the country. These projects will have very positive effect on the economy because initiation of work will result in circulation of money again,” he added.

People with the experience and seniority of Engr Tahir Sultan have the ability to observe many things from a different perspective. During the course of the interview Engr Tahir Sultan, provided some very reasonable suggestions for the government. He said “We have seen that the government has provided attractive incentives for the housing sector for the revival of the construction industry. Right now only the housing sector is being considered under construction industry. What they need to understand is that although housing sector is good but it does not have potential to provide as much revenue and employment opportunities as the infrastructure development sector which includes construction of roads dams etc. The government should provide incentives for these projects as well under the construction industry for optimal outcome”.

Another important aspect highlighted by Engr. Tahir Sultan is the inability of local companies to participate in competitive bidding even in local tenders. He said that in addition to interest rates being extremely high, banks demand such a high amount of collateral for provision of bid bond/guarantees that the local construction companies are unable to pay. This results in foreign companies winning the contracts for lucrative projects like motorways.” He urged the government to establish construction banks in the country to support the local construction companies. Moreover he highlighted the fact that State Bank of Pakistan does not liberally allow the companies to provide guarantees in dollars for bidding in international tenders. “This creates an unreasonable amount of hassle for the companies. If it is allowed many local companies will be able to bid competitively for international tenders as well like construction projects in Africa,” he added.

Giving a message to the fellow countrymen, suffering the brunt of the COVID-19 induced economic crunch, he said “The times are tough for everyone. Everyone is struggling and not just locally but on a global scale. If anything, COVID-19 has humbled us and increased the realization that we cannot fight with Force Majeure. But one cannot deny the fact that now it is clear as day that things are starting to get better. Take 2020 as the year of consolidation and planning so that you arrive at 2021 completely prepared,” he said optimistically.