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PSO MD Irfan Qureshi

PSO MD Irfan Qureshi

PSO’s commitment to corporate social responsibility has always been of paramount importance, can you elaborate on the commitment given by PSO to the flood victims?

Irfan Qureshi: “I’m sure you would agree that this level of a catastrophe is harrowing for everyone to say the least. This level and scale of destruction has not been witnessed in the country before. Yes, Corporate Social Responsibility is something PSO holds very dear especially since it holds the distinction of owning the largest share as far as serving the nation’s energy needs are concerned. This is a major responsibility on many levels and maintaining this reputation is frankly a herculean task.

PSO has donated a total amount of Rs.50 million to the flood victims across the country. We have also formed zonal committees for each province dedicated to distribute rations and tents across the country amongst those affected by the floods.  We have already distributed food rations in Khyber Pakhtunkwa to support 2000 people and our teams are currently engaged in distributing food items and tents among the affected fellow citizens in Makli, District Thatta.”

You have personally spearheaded PSO’s flood relief efforts, what challenges have you faced in light of the enormity of this disaster?

IQ: “The sheer scale of this disaster is incredible. Those having visited the affected areas can bear testament to the fact that the situation is actually quite dismal at the ground-level and the scope of work that need to be done is daunting. I have personally visited the Muzzafergarh area and seen the devastation.

PSO has never shied away from challenges and this commitment was one the company pledged immediately. PSO was one of the first ones to roll up its sleeves and plunge into work.

Also, it is not just the donation of funds and distribution of goods that is a challenge. Given the nature of the product we market, it may literally be tagged as the backbone of the economy especially at a crucial moment like this. I am proud to state that we labored day in and day out to ensure continuous supply of POL products. According to early estimates, PSO has suffered a loss of Rs. 2.9 billion due to damages to infrastructure caused by the devastating floods. Despite these grave challenges, PSO has fulfilled its responsibility of keeping approximately 3300 retail outlets operational while maintenance work is ongoing to revive operational integrity of outlets affected.”

Among other initiatives, PSO has organized a caravan carrying relief goods for the stricken region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, what kind of response did you receive?

IQ: “PSO engages in good corporate citizen at many levels and this caravan was part of the relief activities carried out. Even though CSR is carried at the organizational level, it is very heartening to see the response of individual employees in voluntarily helping out where is needed. The satisfaction of getting to these remote regions and giving to those flood victims who were stuck in inaccessible areas, cannot be put into words. Their gestures reflected their gratitude where no words were exchanged.”

In light of the extent of the catastrophe, will PSO’s relief efforts be an ongoing and continuous process?

IQ: “Yes, merely sustaining the flood victims initially will certainly not serve a holistic CSR function. Sustainability is key.

Primarily, fulfilling basic needs is paramount. However, after a little time passes, rehabilitation shall be the major focus. Getting these flood affectees back on their feet is a looming challenge. But in this hour of crisis PSO stands by the nation and would provide all possible assistance in the ongoing relief efforts and certainly, later during the really crucial phase as well.”

As part of PSO’s extensive CSR programme, PSO has been working on community uplift projects, how have these projects been affected by the floods?

IQ: “When getting involved in projects and assessing where to make donations, a major point of concern is the sustainability of such initiatives. Sometimes it is a one-off donation but one that shall reap ongoing benefit, e.g. the donation of a much-needed ERCP machine for Surgical Unit of Civil Hospital Karachi.

Funds that have been focused on infrastructural development like building schools and health-care set up and temporarily such initiatives will be on hold. Pakistan has not dealt with a natural calamity of this scale and even the international community and donors are astounded by the breadth of the severity this flood. Will take exhaustive and concerted efforts by all of us together to manage these catastrophe; but I am optimistic that given Pakistan’s resilience, we shall be able to stay afloat.”

Over the course of your career, you have spent a great deal of time in all parts of the country including the rural areas, how will the floods affect the agricultural sector?

IQ: “These ruthless floods in Pakistan that have killed up to 1,600 people, left 20 million homeless and destroyed crops over an estimated area of more than 1.64 million hectares. It is futile to even have the slightest hope that even half the target production will be met, be it cotton, sugar or wheat.

It is a common fact that agrarian economies like Pakistan bear the brunt of such natural calamities. And that is especially so for Pakistan where the country was facing a white sugar crisis even before the floods hit. Along with the agriculture country’s livestock sector has also faced a huge loss as the 160,000 animals were perished by this flood. I don’t want to sound like the harbinger of doom, but we all have to exert very conscious effort for the rural economy to stand on its feet again.”

In your view, what will be the overall impact on Pakistan’s economy? Will the consequences be far-reaching and what can be done to minimize the damage?

IQ: “These floods may cut economic growth by up to a half percentage point from the 4% growth target for the current fiscal year. Inflation, meanwhile, is set to rise as the loss of crops drives up food prices and the government borrows more to meet relief costs. Entire towns, infrastructure, livestock and crops have been swept away. Electricity generation has been hit in a country already suffering crippling energy crisis. Damage to crops, supply disruption of essential food commodities and the impact of reconstruction and rehabilitation costs on government finances has significantly increased inflation risks.
The country will need a lot of help internally and externally to recover from the floods. The corporate sector should also come forward and help our fellow countrymen survive the aftermath of these massive floods.”

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