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September 24, 2020

‘Kia-Lucky driven to offer more choices to car buyers despite all odds’

Business

September 24, 2020

KARACHI: There is a dire need to attract more national and international investment to keep the wheel of economy moving at a pace that can create jobs for the millions of unemployed and take the country to the road of prosperity.

It was stated by Asif Rizvi, CEO of Kia-Lucky Motor Corporation, in an exclusive interview with The News.

“Under such circumstances the investment of Rs20 billion in automobile sector by the Lucky Group can safely be termed as truly exceptional initiative that has exceeded expectations,” Rizvi said highlighting his company’s contribution into Pakistan’s economy amid a low investment environment.

He said the state-of-the-art Kia-Lucky Motor Corporation, a Lucky Group company, which went into production a year ago, had provided direct and indirect employment opportunities for thousands of jobseekers.

“It has also boosted the auto sector which was passing through a crisis.”

Further explaining his point of view Rizvi said two years back Pakistan was selling 330,000 automobiles, which reduced to merely 125,000 units in 2019-20 due to rupee devaluation, imposition of FED (Federal Excise Duty), additional taxes, and the COVID-19 impact.

However, it was encouragingly enough the automobile market was gradually picking up and there was much opportunity for growth, Rizvi added.

“Hopefully the industry will rebound very strongly and soon regain the lost market. The auto market has always recovered very quickly after every recession,” he said.

Talking about the different brands of automobiles, Rizvi said three companies had been working in Pakistan for many years, while Kia started production only last year and another brand was recently launched.

“So the real competition is among these five global brands and these are in a position to fulfill the local demand. A few regional brands are also making an entry under the New Entrant Policy.”

Above all, the ultimate benefit of all the competition among these brands would go to the consumers, who had so far had a very limited choice, he said adding, this was the backdrop of our entry into Pakistan’s auto sector.

While talking about the use of locally made parts, he said though, as per the government policy they had been given a duty concession for five years; however, they had already started using locally manufactured parts which they plan to increase every year to remain competitive when the duty concession runs out.

“Our company strongly believes that the maximum use of locally manufactured parts, will not only provide employment opportunities but will also help in the rapid growth and uplift of the automobile vendor industry as a whole.”

Rizvi was, however, very critical of the problems being faced by the investors in setting up new plants. “Though the government claims it facilitates the prospective entrepreneurs in setting up new industry, the problems we faced right after acquiring the New Entrant status under the ADP 2016-21, in the setting up of the plant and making it operational are just too painful to even recount,” he said.

Rizvi said the commitments made for facilitating the entrepreneurs in National Industrial Park, a Special Economic Zone, for providing electricity, gas, water, road network, drainage system, security, etc., ‘at your doorstep’, were grossly unfulfilled. “We were left with no choice but to make arrangements for these facilities on our own, which increased the overall cost big time, and many of those constraints are continuing to this day.”

“Can you imagine running an automobile plant without any utility or infrastructure to begin with, and still after 18 months we don’t have a water supply pipeline, drainage system, or road infrastructure,” Rizvi said.

Talking about the market response of their products Sportage and Picanto, Rizvi said, “We have received an overwhelming response to our products for which we thank our customers. The demand for our cars is increasing with every passing day and that’s why we are planning to start a double shift from January 2021, within a year of launch”.