UNISAME Urges Prime Minister for Swift Action on SME Promotion

UNISAME Urges Prime Minister for Swift Action on SME Promotion

In a significant move, the Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has appealed to Prime Minister Shehbaaz Sharif, calling for the expedited promotion and development of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, a vital component of the economy deserving immediate attention.

Zulfikar Thaver, President of UNISAME, highlighted the SME sector’s pivotal role as the engine of growth and the backbone of the economy. Thaver emphasized that the SME sector’s potential to stimulate economic growth is contingent on robust support, encouragement, and facilitation. He urged the Prime Minister to place SME promotion and development directly under the Cabinet Division, ensuring focused attention, mirroring the practices adopted by other successful economies worldwide.

One of the key aspects underscored by Thaver was the need for a fast-track approach to SME promotion, particularly in securing finance with affordable markup rates, energy at reasonable rates, and access to raw materials with lower or minimal import duties. Additionally, Thaver proposed innovative schemes such as “Pay as you earn” for commercial property leasing, enabling SMEs to acquire land, factories, warehouses, and offices.

Thaver also called for the establishment of a credit guarantee insurance system to bolster exports, emphasizing the creation of an SME export bureau dedicated to promoting locally produced goods. He suggested tax holidays and exemptions for import substitution industries to further incentivize growth within the SME sector.

Addressing the pillars of the economy, Thaver highlighted the essential roles played by Technology, Banking, Insurance, and Logistics. He stressed the urgency of bridging the technological gap through the transfer of technology, modernizing banking practices with enhanced risk and collateral management skills, and providing logistics support with collateral management facilities.

Importantly, Thaver drew attention to the interconnected nature of imports and exports, likening them to the warp and weft of the economic fabric. He cautioned that without adequate imports of raw materials and machinery components, the industrial stability and growth necessary for balancing, modernization, and replacement would be severely compromised.

The UNISAME Council, comprising various industry experts and stakeholders, urged the Prime Minister to prioritize the SME sector this time, emphasizing the need to strengthen the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA). They reminded the Prime Minister that SMEDA was initially established by former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif with ambitious promises, and therefore, it requires immediate fortification.

Expressing concern over the potential setbacks the sector may face in the wake of high inflation and escalating business and production costs, the UNISAME Council called for serious attention to avert a crisis. They warned that without adequate support, the SME sector could suffer a tremendous setback, which the country cannot afford under any circumstances, echoing the proverb, “A stitch in time saves nine.”