The Leader & Born to Serve
S.M. Muneer business leader of Pakistan who have walked through hard time and become an example to entire Pakistani entrepreneur . The start from the rise of his Din Group of Companies as one of the major business groups in the country is the story of almost 50 years of hard work and perseverance.
A year after 18-year-old Muneer had joined his father S.M. Din’s firm — Din Leather, which had by then emerged as one of the largest exporters of raw leather in a short span of 10 years — the company went bankrupt and the family had to face a serious financial crisis in 1966 because of heavy losses.
“We had to sell almost all our personal assets — cars, property, etc. — to pay off creditors. It was then that I thought of accepting an offer of a job at PIA. But my father stopped me from taking it. He wanted me to set up my own business, no matter how small or insignificant it may have been,” Mr Muneer, chairman of the family-owned Din Group, recalled during an interview with Dawn.
So the family sold whatever was left after paying creditors, and he rented a small leather tannery in Karachi. Shortly afterwards, he rented another, and then another, and so and so forth.
For many years, Muneer stuck to the leather business. It was in 1987 when he stepped into the textile business and set up a spinning factory in Chunian, near Lahore. Today, the group owns five spinning factories in Lahore, with an installed capacity of 100,000 spindles, producing premium quality yarn worth over Rs8 billion, up from just more than Rs3 billion in 2008, for domestic and foreign markets.
Later, Muneer partnered with Mian Mohammad Mansha to bid for the Muslim Commercial Bank (now MCB Bank) when it was sold out by the first Nawaz Sharif government in the early 1990s. He holds 10 per cent shares in the bank, and has been the vice-chairman of its board for the last many years.
The group he heads also has business interests in non-life insurance, chemicals, dyeing, real estate, etc. in the country and abroad, and is now planning to form consortia to bid for public sector businesses whenever the government puts them up for sale as part of its privatisation programme.
“Hard work, honesty and luck have played a key role in my success,” says Mr Muneer, who likes to describe himself as a self-made businessman. “I am in my office at 8 in the morning every day and work till 5 in the evening. Hard work and honesty always pay dividends,” he says, while refusing to give the exact amount of his fortunes because of the prevailing security situation in the country.
Muneer backs most of the present Nawaz Sharif government’s economic policies. “The government took a very wise decision of approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a balance of payment loan without delay. It has saved the economy from disaster,” he says.
Though he agrees that the people will have to swallow bitter pills if the economy has to be fixed, he is of the view that tough decisions should not have meant putting additional, heavy financial burden on the shoulders of the crisis-ridden industry and the common people in one go, in the form of sudden and sharp increases in electricity prices and heavy indirect taxation.
“I agree that there is no option but to raise power prices to fix the power sector, but the prices should have been increased in phases to allow the industry and the consumers to adjust to the hike,” he says.
“Similarly, we cannot get out of the current economic mess unless we increase our tax revenues. However, it does not mean taxing the already taxed sectors. It would have been much better if the government had taxed the untaxed or the under-taxed sectors of the economy, rather than increasing indirect taxation. A good tax policy is to bring tax evaders and avoiders into the net and not to add to the burden of honest taxpayers.”
Mr Muneer identifies security conditions and energy shortages as major impediments to investment in the country. “The new government is business-friendly and has been trying to fix these problems, but it will take time before people start investing in the economy. They are waiting and watching the situation at present. But if everything goes well and the government is able to stem the rot, I hope that investors will start investing in the next one year.
In addition, he has received the Sitara-e-Isaar and the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2006 and 2007 respectively by the President of Pakistan. His contributions and achievements go beyond the economic sphere into the education sector as well.He was awarded an Honorary PhD degree by the Governor of Sindh and is also a member of the Board of Directors of CBM and Greenwich College, Karachi and the Director of Shaukat Khannum Cancer Hospital, Lahore.Mr.S.M. Muneer is the Chairman of Chiniot Anjuman Islamia running many Hospitals, Maternity Homes, Schools & Colleges in Karachi, Faisalabad and Chiniot.Mr.S.M. Muneer was awarded “Life Time Achievement Award” by the President of Pakistan, in the President House in 2012.