Govt not closing economy despite 5th Covid wave: Imran

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Launches special policy for SMEs

Staff Reporter
Islamabad

Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the National Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Policy on Wednesday, underlining the importance of supporting small businesses and startups and saying the country would see the benefits of this policy in days to come.

Addressing the policy’s launching ceremony in Islamabad, the premier said the government was now directing its efforts towards facilitating the SME sector, which he said was ignored previously.

Govt not shutting down economy despite 5th Covid wave: PM Imran . Premier warns those responsible for hampering SME growth of action while launching fresh policy for the sector

Khan warned that another wave of coronavirus had gripped the country but reiterated his stance against lockdown, saying that his government will not shut down the economy. “We are giving it incentives … and the importance that it was not given until now.”

He highlighted that one of the most significant steps taken under the new policy was facilitating small businesses in taking loans from banks.

“The SME sector is the biggest source of employment and has a considerable share in wealth creation,” he underscored, regretting that in Pakistan, the SME sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product was not as much as it should be.

The prime minister identified difficulties faced by small businesses in getting loans and credits as one of the reasons behind it not contributing to the GDP to its full potential.

In this regard, he gave the example of Silicon Valley — the hub of startups and global technology companies in the US.

He said Silicon Valley, where ideas of young people were supported by means of making resources available to them, brought about a “revolution of technology” in the US.

“Venture capitalists backed ideas [there], they took a chance, and people as young as 25 tp 26 years old went on to become billionaires,” he said. The youth, he said, were more driven, passionate and “dream big”. As one grows older, the premier added, “we take fewer risks … and initiatives”. “Therefore, it is important that the government facilitate the youth [in getting] credit,” Prime Minister Imran explained, also encouraging the private sector to make venture capital investments.

He also expressed pleasure over a “$500 million investment in Pakistani startups from outside the country”. Previously, he recalled, the investment in the sector from outside the country was negligible.

“And this means that we are heading in the right direction.” As the prime minister again stressed the importance of investing in the youth, he went on to identify further reasons that hampered the progress of SMEs.

Besides difficulties in borrowing from banks and getting credit, high property prices was another problem they faced, he said. “The land is so expensive in cities that it is difficult for them to buy property to establish a setup,” the prime minister elaborated.

 

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