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LAHORE: "The government is making efforts to provide a level-playing field for SMEs by devising business-friendly policies and an effective mechanism for easy access to finance."

This was stated by Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Federal Minister Industries and Production while addressing a webinar organized by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) on Friday in connection with the "World SME Day".

Kamran Ali Afzal, Federal Secretary MoIP and Dr Reza Baqir, Governor State Bank of Pakistan also addressed the webinar. Whereas, Hashim Raza, Chief Executive Officer, Smeda delivered the address of welcome on this occasion.

Speaking as representatives of the SME sector Sheikh Sajjad Afzal, Fakhra Jamal Siddiqui and Muhammad Anas Ganaei shared their success stories in the webinar.

Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar informed that development of SME sector is included in the top most economic agenda of present government. That was the reason that Prime Minister of Pakistan gave special preference to the survival of SMEs during corona lockdown last year and launched several programmes to protect SMEs that included Mazdoor ka Ehssas Programme, PM's Small Business and Industry Relief Package "Chota Karobar Imdadi Package Pre-paid Electricity," and construction sector package.

He said that the government was fully cognizant to the problems of SMEs.

That is why a country with a total budget outlay of Rs 7.29 trillion had announced a package worth 16.5 percent of its budget for Covid-19 measures, he said adding that around Rs 12 billion had further been allocated in the current fiscal budget for risk sharing and collateral free lending to SMEs coupled with multiple initiatives for development of skills and technology in the SME sector.

He further informed that the prime minister of Pakistan had approved National SME Policy Action Plan 2020 to provide much needed support to SMEs.

The National SME Policy Action Plan 2020 includes initiatives on simplification of rules & regulations, specialized SME taxation regime, programmes for SME access to credit, SME quota in public procurement, simplification of SECP procedures and facilitation for participation of SMEs in international fairs and exhibitions on subsidized rates, he added.

The minister appreciated Smeda to play pivotal role in developing viable plans with strong transparency for support of SMEs to mitigate the devastating effects of Corona Pandemic. He also appreciated the efforts of entrepreneurs who quickly adapted to the change and provided much needed support to the economy in odd timings of pandemic.

Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir, expressing his views on this occasion said that increasing credit ration to SMEs through an easy access to finance is the main agenda of the State Bank which has been translated into a collateral-free credit scheme jointly developed by the government and SBP. The formal announcement of the scheme would soon be made with all details and procedures, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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