ISLAMABAD: The national SME policy is being developed and it will be finalised by April 11, 2019, said Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and In charge of Ministry of Industries and Production Abdul Razak Dawood.
He was speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production, chaired by MNA Sajid Hussain Turi. Turi recommended that, once finalised, the SME policy may also be shared with the committee.
Dawood said due to their immense economic significance, SMEs in Pakistan were first recognised as a distinct segment at the policy level. Since the approval of the SME policy in 2007, various initiatives had been taken to promote SME growth in the country, he said.
However, rapidly changing business environment required a revision in the policy in order to develop the SME sector in line with global advancements by setting objectives.
Talking about the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), the PM adviser informed the committee that neither any utility store would be closed, nor USC employees would be sacked.
Earlier, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) CEO briefed committee members about the vision and mission of the authority. He pointed out that Smeda was responsible for framing the policy and providing overall planning-related assistance to the SME sector by protecting its interests.
However, the committee members expressed concern over the performance of Smeda and the expenditure and outcome of projects undertaken by the authority.
The committee was also given a detailed briefing by the USC managing director, who said major functions of the corporation were to protect the real income of people by selling essential consumer goods at prices lower than those prevailing in the open market.
The committee, at the outset, was briefed on the modern techniques proposed by the USC for its smooth and efficient operations and was told that a policy was under consideration to move utility stores from loss-making areas to where they could earn profit without any impact on the employees.
The committee members were told that USC was planning to introduce an e-loyalty card to help extend the purchasing power of low-income consumers. The new facility will be integrated with the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Pakistan Baitul Maal.
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The USC official also apprised the meeting about annual sales, subsidy from the government, net profit, loss and taxes paid by the corporation. He revealed that USC was working on a contract with a Saudi Arabian businessman in order to acquire funds of up to Rs5 billion on a two-year deferred payment basis for improving the performance of utility stores.
Discussing the performance of USC, the committee members were of the view that the government should provide subsidy for smooth working of the corporation.
The committee also recommended that an inquiry report on the supply of substandard ghee to USC earlier and other utility items, which were stopped at that time, be submitted for its consideration.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2019.
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