ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the government was pursuing its agenda of promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing loans, ensuring the ease of doing business and reshaping its policies.
Addressing a ceremony to distribute cheques among beneficiaries of business loans under the Youth Entrepreneur Scheme, the prime minister said the SMEs were the backbone of every economy that created most employment opportunities.
The prime minister said around one million applications had been received within 15 to 20 days which manifested people’s interest in the scheme. The utmost effort had been made to make the scrutiny process fully transparent and merit-based, he said, adding it was pleasing that around 190,000 women had also applied for loans.
He said it was among the government’s responsibilities to create an atmosphere for jobs creation by removing all impediments in the course of establishing businesses.
Imran says 1m applications within 20 days manifest people’s interest in scheme
He said owing to a merit-based and transparent system in the United Kingdom, the Pakistani expatriates had joined the textile industry of Manchester as labourer and within a decade they purchased industries there. But the same people could not excel in Pakistan as the old mindset and practices here did not allow businesses to flourish. However, he added, the incumbent government was in the process to do away with all such policies.
The prime minister told the gathering that only societies with passion and merit could progress in different fields, including sports, regardless of their size and population.
The government, he said, was making all-out efforts to bring the ease of doing business to exploit the true potential of the country, particularly by protecting the interests of the SMEs.
He said the SMEs always needed financial support from the government, which was being extended as the sector had faced neglect in the past.
The prime minister said the government’s efforts for bringing the ease of doing business were coming to fruition as the World Bank had also upgraded Pakistan’s ranking by 28 points on that account.
He said it was pleasing that some applicants had also got loans to execute tourism projects which could pay dividends within a shortest period. The number of tourists was increasing as people visiting tourist spots shared their photos on social media which attracted others to those venues.
Mr Khan said considering the growing number of tourists, the people of the areas concerned had opened up small guest houses or rented some portion of their own houses to earn money.
He said a new era was about to start in the country’s tourism sector. He urged the youth to exploit the potential to uplift the country.
He asked Usman Dar, Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs, to invite him again for the second phase of cheques distribution as he always felt pleasure by seeing the youth setting up their businesses to achieve financial independence.
The prime minister distributed cheques among successful candidates who had applied for business loans from across the country and wished them good luck for their future business plans.
Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza, SAPM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri also attended the meeting.
Speaking on the occasion, Usman Dar said the applications for business loans were received and scrutinised through a digital system to ensure transparency and merit.
He said the applications of only those candidates had been approved who had come up with unique business ideas like Meesam of Parachinar, who wanted to launch his own software house, and Saiqa, who would build a motel in Nathia Gali.
He said the process had helped them collect a data of a million people which would further be utilised in future projects to promote cottage industry at the district level.
Mr Dar said the SME sector across the world had brought economic stability for being an engine of jobs’ creation.
He said around five million cottage industries were operating in the country, but only 170,000 of those had been provided financial assistance. He was confident that the promotion of SMEs would help create around one million jobs.
Minister for Planning Asad Umar said the journey of real progress required participation of millions of people who got job opportunities and thus financial independence through SMEs.
He said the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme was of vital importance, particularly for its distinction of being transparent to support the youth from across the country regardless of their political affiliation.
The minister told the gathering that during last five years around 109,000 applications had applied for business loan, but during the current government, one million people turned up within 15 days to avail the opportunity.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2019