Lahore: Prominent practitioners and stakeholders of the SME sector in Pakistan have urged the government to address issues pertaining to the serious decline of the SME sector in Pakistan, considering its bleak performance in the current fiscal year. The concerns were raised at the 9TH Pakistan SME Forum 2015 organized today by SHAMROCK Conferences International at the PC Hotel, Lahore. This year’s theme was “Fostering SME Access to Finance & Innovative Technologies”.
Dr. Saeed Ahmad, Deputy Director, State Bank of Pakistan while addressing the inaugural session said, “The central bank is considering giving indicative targets to the banks, review their performance against the targets after a certain period, and may consider formulation of regulation to impose mandatory targets if it does not receive favorable results.”
In his opening remarks, Mr. Menin Rodrigues, Convener & Chairman, SHAMROCK Conferences International opined “The intervention of the ministries of industries, commerce, agriculture and finance, in revitalizing the SME sector through prudent steps is necessary; in as much the support of the State Bank of Pakistan, SMEDA and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan for a sustained and collaborative effort to uplift the SME sector.” A comprehensive countrywide registration of SMEs is of vital importance, he added.
In the first session on “Encouraging Lending by Commercial Banks and Financial Institutions” which was chaired by Mr. Samar Hasnain, Executive Director, SBP, the chairman emphasized that the SBP was playing a decisive and collaborative role in addressing the challenges in the SME sector, and given the significance of SMEs and their contribution to the economy, stressed stakeholders to think positively to promote SME Finance. Conclusive presentations were made in this session by Mr. Khurrum Hussain, Group Head Retail, Bank Al-Falah; Mr. Junaid Momund, Head of Business Development, SME Bank Limited and Mr. Ali Mohammad Khan, Head of SME, Askari Bank Limited.
The second session on “Empowering Entrepreneurs to take the Next Big Steps” was chaired by Mr. Sajid Naqvi, Secretary-General, UNISAME who highlighted the urgent need for government and regulatory bodies to take prompt notice of the long-standing issues of the sector, which he said was preventing entrepreneurs and the micro-small outfits in moving forward. He said economies of scale, technology deployment and lack of training at all levels were critical elements. The success story of Dr. Shaheena Asif, Co-Chairperson, Lahore Medical College & CEO, Surgimed Hospital was truly inspirational; whereas the presentations by Mr. Javed Iqbal, Operations Officer SME & Value Chain Solutions, IFC Pakistan and Dr. Shehla Javed Malik, Founder President, Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry, conveyed strong recommendations on promoting SME to its full potential.
Mr. Mohammad Alamgir Choudhry, CEO, SMEDA while addressing the Panel Discussion on “Why is the SME Sector not making an Impact, what are the impediments?”said, the apex body of small and medium enterprises goes the extra mile to be a helpful facilitator to SMEs who approach them for assistance. He stressed amalgamation of scattered activities under one umbrella so that issues can be managed and result achieved. The panelists who deliberated in the discussion included, Mr. Zulfikar Qazilbash, Consultant, Aga Khan Foundation and Mr. Rehmatullah Javed, Chairman, National Committee on SMEs, FPPCI who gave a comprehensive and true picture of the state of the SME sector in Pakistan.