Karachi Property Survey to Rising Prices & Shortage of Steel; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

22 January 2023

Property Survey in Karachi Next Week

After a meeting with a World Bank delegation held at Chief Minister House, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the authorities concerned to start work on the property survey in Karachi next month. In the meeting the chief minister was assisted by various provincial ministers and secretaries. Many officers of World Bank arrived to attend the meeting while the WB Country Director Najy Benhassine participated in the meeting through video link from Islamabad.

Time to Devolve Karachi Property Tax Collection

The World Bank Group has funded a $240 million Competitive and Livable City of Karachi (CLICK) project, which is aimed at bringing in radical reforms in the infrastructure of the metropolis with a particular emphasis on increasing efficiency of the local government delivery system. The provincial government has decided to conduct the property survey in Karachi as one of the components of the project is “improvement of urban property tax system”. The meeting was informed that the work on the technical aspects related to the property survey in the city was being done. It is important to mention that the last property survey across Sindh was held in 2001.

Rising Prices & Shortage of Steel

The steel manufacturers have pushed up the price of steel bars to an all-time high of Rs 243,500 per ton citing a continuous increase in raw material prices, supply chain disruptions and soaring production cost. As Faizan Steel increased the 16mm25mm rate to Rs 240,500 per ton and 10mm12mm to Rs 242,500, while the Agha Steel Industries also raised the 16mm-32mm rate to Rs241,500 and the 10-12 mm to Rs243,500. Not only steel bars, the rate of galvanized sheet or cold rolled sheet used in making home appliances and automobiles has been raised by Rs14,000 to Rs280,000 per ton. In the last week of December 2022, the steel bar rates were Rs 224,500-225,500 per ton for 10mm-12mm and Rs222,500-223,500 for 16mm-25mm.

Steel makers seek the government`s help in opening Letters of Credit (LCs) amid fear of industry closure. The country`s import of iron and steel scrap (the key raw material for making steel bars) during July-November of the current fiscal year plunged to one million tons ($605m) versus 1.7m tons ($978m), down by 36% in quantity and 38% in value. Pakistan Association of Large Steel Producers has urged the State Bank of Pakistan and the finance minister to help the troubled steel industry by ensuring the timely opening of LCs. Arif Habib Limited (AHL) – a brokerage house – stated in a report that a country might face a steel shortage in the coming days as the profitability of the construction sector will adversely be affected due to the short supply of dollars and limitations to secure Letters of Credit for import of raw materials.

Anti-encroachment Drive to curb Smog in Lahore

In a bid to address traffic congestion, smog and other environmental issues, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has launched a mega anti-encroachment operation on nine major roads in the areas of the city under its control. The operation has been launched on the order of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on a writ petition, seeking measures by the government to control pollution and smog in the city.

According to the LDA, a citizen had filed a writ petition in the LHC and pointed out various civic issues causing surge in smog, pollution and other urban problems affecting health of the public. The petitioner also sought a remedy from the court under the constitution and requested it to direct the LD and other civic agencies to take action. Accepting the petition, the LHC ordered the LDA to launch an operation for clearing encroachments from the roads. The action being taken by the authorities include demolition of the extended portions of the premises, sealing of the premises, disconnection of utility services, imposition of fines and other major penalties and lodging of the FIRs against those involved in contributing to smog, pollution and other issues. The operation has been launched vigorously on various major roads of various housing schemes regulated by the LDA.

Construction Sector dips in Large Scale Manufacturing

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics Large-scale manufacturing (LSM) shrank 5.49 per cent in November 2022 over the same month last year. The big industry production contracted for the third consecutive month of the current fiscal year sending fears of major layoffs. The contraction in industrial output indicates that economic growth will slip further in the next quarter.

In construction sector, the production of iron and steel dipped 8.71% during November mainly because of a decline of 23.92% in billets/ingots, whereas that of non-metallic mineral products dipped 13.07% and chemical products 7.06%, respectively. The production of pharmaceutical products dipped 8.34%, while that of rubber products declined 9.30% in November 2022 from a year ago.

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