ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Thursday said that the bulk of bank credits were focused on corporate sectors and in nine cities of the country only.

Acknowledging the importance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), he said the government has announced launching efforts to provide a level playing field for businesses by devising policies that are favourable for SMEs.

Mr Tarin was addressing a press conference here at the launch of the Economic Survey 2020-21. He said that the focus of the government would be to facilitate the SME sector by streamlining policies related to it.

The Economic Survey has highlighted that in Pakistan, SME sector contributes an estimated 40pc to GDP and it holds tremendous potential to create a positive impact on the country’s economy.

The prime minister, in August 2020, constituted a National Coordination Committee (NCC) on SME development to facilitate promotion of SMEs in the country. Later, the National SME Policy Action Plan 2020 was approved by the premier which focuses on key areas including SME definition, access to finance, business development services, skills & human resource, technology, market access, infrastructure and entrepreneurship, and provides extensive recommendations in each of these areas.

Key recommendations and initiatives proposed under the plan include simplification of rules, regulations and taxation regime, programmes for SME access to credit, SME quota in public procurement, simplification of Securities and exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) procedures, facilitation to participate in international fairs and exhibitions on subsidised rates and developing SME data bank to bridge the information gap.

The survey has also highlighted the role of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) to create a hassle free business environment for SMEs. Smeda One Window (SOW) has been launched to link SMEs and startups with national and provincial regulatory authorities for compliance with regulations especially at the start-up stage.

The SOW consolidates federal and provincial government procedures into simplified processes through a one window service that directly benefits enterprises that fall under key ownership/legal structure including sole proprietorship, partnership registration with registrar of firms, limited liability partnership and private limited company registration with SECP.

Since the launch of SOW in September 2020, around 72 applications have been received while the Letter of Intent (LOI) has been issued to 58 applicants.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2021

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