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924hr
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41424hr
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Pakistan

COVID-19: Special measures imperative to boost SMEs

  • Asif Cheema of Asian Development Bank informed the participants that his institution was helping the government to improve credit guarantee schemes, and put in place a risk mitigation fund.
11 Jun 2020

ISLAMABAD: Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Thursday organized online public-private dialogue session to discuss before and the post COVID-19 effects on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

Speakers were of the view that 'special measures to help and boost SMEs was imperative after-Covid19 scenario.

They have suggested to provide a short-term and long term relief to country's SMEs which may be announced addressed in Federal Budget for the year 2020-21 keeping in view difficulties faced by small enterprises.

Mukesh Kumar, Provincial Head of SMEDA, Sindh, was of view that as the ways of doing business are changing fast as a result of Covid-19, we need to come up with the responses that may meet the requirements of the diverse kinds of enterprises.

He said that some micro and small businesses may be in need of loans but for others we may need to give one-off grants to help them stand back on their feet.

"The regulatory requirements may be eased and digitized as per provincial and local level laws", he added. Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director, SDPI, while sharing the latest research conducted by his institute, said that about 1.4 million SMEs may face 50% decline in their income and 3 million SMEs in Pakistan may need assistance in after Covid19 scenario.

He further said that SDPI research shows that small businesses will need support beyond the credit facilitation recently announced.

As costs related to compliance with social distancing and health related SOPs increase, firms need support towards deferment of utility bills for next quarter and support in digitizing production, marketing and distribution.

The reduction in customs duties and other trade taxes should be ensured, especially, on the import of health related equipment.

Besides, the regulatory Modernization Initiative can help in reducing number of regulatory steps and costs faced by businesses, he concluded.

Amir Qureshi, representing Habib Bank Limited (HBL), highlighted that the banks will need to develop non-conventional ways of evaluating risks and improve delivery of refinance schemes.

Asif Cheema of Asian Development Bank informed the participants that his institution was helping the government to improve credit guarantee schemes, and put in place a risk mitigation fund.

Shaista Ayesha from SEED Ventures, was of view that business associations are weak and need support. Women-led businesses face barriers which need special attention by all regulatory bodies.

Therefore, more flexible financial products for the smallest enterprises need to be developed, she said. Barrister Ahmed Bashir, on the occasion said that Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) should provide a legal framework for social businesses.

The speakers including Ather Naqvi and senior journalist Shereen Naqvi, representing School of Leadership, also highlighted various aspects of emerging situation related to SMEs in Pakistan.

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