The 10th Pakistan SME Conference 2016 organized by SHAMROCK Conferences International, concluded in Karachi. The experts and regulators deliberated upon broad-based solutions for accelerating growth in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector.
Assistant Director of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Imran Ahmed addressed the forum and expressed the commitment of the State Bank through NFIS to provide financial access to 50% of SMEs in the country while aiming to extend Rs. 400 Billion as SME loans by the year 2020. The stakeholders urged creation of a supportive regulatory environment, to optimize productivity through technological and financial access, as the SMEs have the potential to bring a powerful economic revolution in a developing country like Pakistan.
The theme of the conference was “Facilitating SMEs Makes Economic Sense”. The discussions covered key development topics like; Infrastructure, Regulatory realignments, Financing, Reforms, Sustainability, Facilitation & Empowerment’, along with the subjects of Good Governance & Human Resources development’. The stakeholders urged tangible measures to modernize infrastructure, banking, leasing, insurance and logistics to build capacity. The need to reduce taxes and duties on Alternate Energy solutions for the SMEs, to overcome the hazards of energy crisis was also highlighted.
In his keynote address, the Board Member of SMEDA, Engr M.A. Jabbar stressed, “Advocacy for SME development needs to be strengthened, and preferential treatment should be given to the SMEs, which is the deprived segment” while the Chairperson of Sindh Board of Investments, Ms. Naheed Memon said, “China is looking at Pakistan as a partner. Our institutions must perform well to take full advantage of CPEC as countless ancillary businesses will emerge from this endeavor.”
The Group Head of Micro & SME at Bank Alfalah, Khurram Hussain, who gave a presentation on “Re-Thinking SMEs – To do Things Differently” emphasized digital technologies and global best practices to ease SME lending; which is showing better performance, which is a great success for the SME and banking sectors.” The SBP made a special mention of the initiatives taken by the bank.
Zulfikar Thaver, President UNISAME and Chairman of the Technical Committee of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) stated that “Establishment of new well equipped and specialized industrial estates for SMEs is a part of the strategic way forward. Research and Development activities must be nurtured for creating collective advantages. The government must promote the housing industry, which boosts the demand for more than 36 sectors and a vast range of products. Special incentives and tax relief programs should be offered to promote the transfer of new technologies among the SMEs. The conflict-resolution mechanism (Ombudsman) must be speeded up to facilitate smoother operations and faster growth, while closer coordination between SME promotion institutions is also a need of the day.”
The Board Member of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank, Majyd Aziz discussing ‘A New Financial Paradigm for Agriculture’, said, “Technology should be adopted to improve agriculture whereas, food security should be improved through best-practices and establishing farmers entrepreneurial associations to safeguard their interests.”
Group Head of SME at Pak-Brunei Investment Company, Ms. Arjumand Qazi in her discussion on “Making SMEs Bankable” stated, “SMEs in Pakistan are not bankable due to many reasons like misleading documentation of these small businesses. Lenders must work beyond the balance sheet and evaluate their qualitative potential, business model and products.” A panel discussion focused on the methodologies for promoting the Culture of Entrepreneurship to spur SME growth which was addressed by Chief of SMEDA Sindh, Mukesh Kumar and Vice President of First Women Bank, Ms. Samina Geti.
Earlier, Menin Rodrigues, Convener & Chairman, SHAMROCK Conferences International said, “It is heartening to see the SME Forum, continue for a decade and evolve into a powerful platform for finding solutions for the sector. There have been a number of favorable interventions by the State Bank of Pakistan to address the issues, in particular, the working of an action plan for the implementation of the National Finance Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).”