Devaluation of rupee is the mother of all business illness.

Byline: Khalil Ahmed

Interview with Mr Shamim A. Firpo - Chairman, Firpo Group of Companies

PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and your organization, please:

Shamim A. Firpo: I started life's struggle at a very young age. When I was six years old my father died and after his death my mother played a vital role in building my personality and future. My mother motivated and encouraged me in every walk of life. I am determined and optimist kind of a person and always believes in Allah SubhanahuTa'alah that He always has good for everyone. As a person, I am very simple and want to be result-oriented.

I am also very much interested in social welfare work. In my whole life I worked hard and made my life as I dreamed. I am a self-made person and feel pleasure whenever I share my success story with students and young entrepreneurs in mentoring sessions while visiting universities and educational institutes to motivate them.

As I shared that, at a very young age I started my business journey. That was 1968 when I established my food business with the name of Firpo Restaurant at Tariq Road in Karachi. With the blessings of Allah SubhanahuTa'ala and my mother's prayers, my business got success and popularity. The name 'Firpo' was so popular that it has become part of my name. I am proud to say that there may be thousands of Shamims but there is only one Firpo, so whenever the Firpo name is taken anywhere across Pakistan, people come to know that it is only Shamim A. Firpo. After getting success in food business, I diversified my business and started trading, import and export business with the name of Sohail Enterprises in 1975. I constantly worked with devotion, with the flow of time my sons joined me in business and Alhamdulillah our business has now converted into Firpo Group of Companies.

In 2018 we celebrated 50 Years Golden Jubilee of our business. If I talk about my business, we mainly deal in auto lamps and auto parts. We are well known amongst automobile industry in Pakistan. All the top auto manufacturing companies use our bulbs and parts in their vehicles. We are doing our business globally and have established offices in China, Sri Lanka, and Romania. Our working partners are China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, USA, Germany, Hungry, UAE, Romania, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan.

Firpo is our registered brand name which is known as a name of trust and a symbol of quality in market. I am also holding different public and private portfolios and also have interest in business politics and have served the business community of Karachi as President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the year 2016-17.

I am very much satisfied and happy with my life and thankful to Allah SubhanahuTa'ala for giving me this respect and success.

PAGE: How would you comment on the current state of the economy

Shamim A. Firpo: I am of the view that a sharp fall and fluctuation in rupee value is increasing cost of production which is leaving Pakistani exports uncompetitive in the international market and discourage investments in the industrial expansion. At present currency is depreciating, interest rates are surging, cost of doing business is escalating and businesses are in a state of depression as none of the sectors are progressing. Pakistan has witnessed various rounds of rupee depreciation since December 2017, which resulted in the decline in value of the rupee versus the dollar. At present Pak Rupee is facing ongoing depreciation pressures against the US dollar and touched historic level. Businessmen are worried over a massive depreciation of rupee in the last several months as this will have a devastating effect on the 'already beleaguered' economy.

The depreciation will increase prices of all the essential items and will result into high inflation prices of imported food products. I would say that currency devaluation for a country like Pakistan will have negative economic implications in the long run. At present, the importers have adjusted import prices while exporters are happy to have additional gains, but imports will become costlier for new foreign purchases and exporters will also bear the brunt due to rise in cost of imported raw materials. As we know petroleum products have major share in import bill of our country so as oil prices in the international market are increasing, import cost will also escalate.

In my opinion rupee depreciation may provide some incentives and short-term jubilation to the export sector of the country, but due to rise in the cost of imports, production cost would further go up that would affect the competitiveness of our exports too. Although the current-account deficit narrowed in past months, a consistent increase in the oil import bill, on account of rising international oil prices, has exerted pressure in the foreign exchange market.

Pakistan has also finally decided to approach the International Monetary Fund for help, but the rupee is expected to remain under further pressure in coming days. I have deep concerns about the serious devaluation of rupee against dollar as it will have a devastating effect on all segments of society but I am hopeful for improvement and would say that the new government will take urgent measures to bring stability in the value of domestic currency as the continuous fall in the value of rupee would bring imported inflation in the country and curtail domestic demand leading to further slowdown in the economic growth of the country that would not be in the best interest of the country. It would also adversely affect...

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