ISLAMABAD       -         Pledging transparency and merit as the cornerstones of the Kamyab Jawan loan programme, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the government will facilitate small and medium businesses for job creation in the country.

Addressing the cheques distribution ceremony of Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Program here, the Prime Minister said that transparency in this program is of utmost importance in order to meet the expectations of the people.

The Prime Minister distributed the first set of cheques worth Rs.5 million in total among successful applicants of the programme.

He said that approximately 1.5 million youth applied for loans in this program in a short period of time, of which 190,000 were women which shows the success of the program.

The Prime Minister said active participation of women in business activities is a good omen for the country. He said it is the government’s job to remove obstacles in the way of business.

He recalled that when he went to Britain for the first time, he observed that the entire textile sector was in the hands of Jews. Then, over the course of ten years, he said that Pakistanis migrated there and were able to capture the majority of the textile market.

“What reason was there for these small entrepreneurs to not have been able to set up their businesses in Pakistan? Pakistan is a cotton producing country. It should have been easier for us”, he asked.

He said the difference between successful societies and those that got left behind in the world in successful societies is the merit.

“They facilitate them and provide them with opportunities to start their businesses so that any youngster with a drive to excel can improve their station in society. This is what we call a meritocracy”, he added.

He said that only such countries which have a system of merit can progress.

Citing examples of overseas Pakistanis who have been able to make a name for them in every walk of life, he said such people had been rewarded for their hard work by society.

The Prime Minister said that ‘Naya Pakistan’ represents a new way of thinking in which merit has to be ensured across the board.

“An online system will ensure that there are no undue favours to anyone,” he added.

Speaking of small businesses, Prime Minister Imran said that they are the ones most in need of resources and facilities.

“Big businesses have resources and can sidestep hurdles. But the backbone of the economy is the small business. And when society paves the way forward for such businesses, more people of that country are also prosper”, the Prime Minister emphasised.

He said that the biggest numbers of jobs are provided by the small and medium industries (SMEs). “So this programme is for the youth, but alongside that, the SMEs will benefit greatly from this,” he added.

He regretted that the biggest hurdles had been historically created for small businesses. He assured small business owners that the government will now focus its attention on their affairs.

The Prime Minister said that small and medium industries employ a large number of people and play an important role in economic development of the country.

Highlighting the importance of tourism business in the country, he said Pakistan is blessed with many beautiful and scenic places and local youth can get benefit by creating new tourism-related businesses to attract domestic and foreign tourists. It will also help in generating the revenue and foreign exchange reserves.

“I also think our women are in dire need of opportunities and I was happy to see that from Parachinar and Galiyat have come forward expressing their desire to do business. And especially in tourism”, he added.

He said that tourism is an industry which has “untapped potential people are not even aware of”. “The fastest job creation will be because of this sector.”

The premier, describing how tourism in Pakistan had taken off in the recent months, said that “more and more tourists are coming every year, but we have no room to board them”. He appreciated that many homes had created attached guest rooms to house tourists.

“Women can participate in the IT revolution. So a new era is beginning now. If our youth fully participate, they alone can uplift our country.”

Imran Khan said it is just the beginning and scope of such programmes will be expanded in future and asked Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar to invite him on the next cheque distribution ceremony.

Earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar said Kamyab Jawan Program is being run on merit as per directions of the Prime Minister.

He said applications for loans have been received from all districts of the country. According to him Rs.100 billion have been earmarked for the programme.

He said youth will be directly or indirectly employed with the provision of loans for businesses. He said proposals relating to IT will be given preference in granting loans. Usman Dar said one million youth will benefit from this program.

Usman Dar said this loan program is for those business ventures that have potential to grow.