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ICCI Advocates for Revitalizing SME Bank to Uphold SME Sector

Islamabad, 11 Oct 2023:Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), in an interaction with a delegation of employees’ unions, underscored the necessity of re-activating the SME Bank to enable sustained financing for the SME sector, citing that its discontinuation will deprive SMEs of an affordable credit facility. According to a press release from ICCI, he highlighted that the SME sector in Pakistan presently procures only 6-7% of the private sector financing, a figure significantly lower than that of neighbouring countries.

Bakhtawari voiced these concerns during a meeting with a delegation spearheaded by Zahoor Awan, Chairman, Pakistan Workers Federation’s Steering Committee. Other attendees included Mian Akram Farid, Chairman (Central) Employers Federation of Pakistan, various Presidents of Employees Unions, Zafar Bakhtawari, and Mehfooz Elahi, both former Presidents of ICCI. He specified that the SME Bank’s closure would proliferate obstacles for SMEs in their pursuits for expansion and growth, given the pivotal role the bank plays in exclusively addressing the financing needs of the SME sector and stimulating their growth.

Awan presented the apprehensions of SME Bank employees in light of its anticipated closure and urged the government to mitigate their concerns. He noted that the Executive Committee of SIFC has allegedly instructed the Ministry of Industries and Production to form a re-activation plan for the SME Bank, thereby engendering optimism that the government would facilitate its revival for the upliftment of SMEs.

Additionally, Mian Akram Farid noted the cardinal role of SMEs in the economy and pressed the government to fortify the SME Bank to facilitate enhanced growth of SMEs. Faad Waheed, Senior Vice President of ICCI, underscored the imperative need for Pakistan to enhance industrialization in a bid to rejuvenate its economy and focused on the pivotal development of SMEs to actualize this objective.

Vice President of ICCI, Engr. Azhar ul Islam Zafar, posited that rather than steering towards privatizing SME Bank, the government should incorporate inputs from its employees for its revival. Furthermore, Presidents of Employees Unions of various financial and insurance institutions expressed their concerns over the possible shuttering of SME Bank, appealing to the government to guarantee heightened protection of workers rights amidst these fiscal challenges.

The post ICCI Advocates for Revitalizing SME Bank to Uphold SME Sector appeared first on Pakistan Business News.

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