PESHAWAR - Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) distributed 80 grants’ cheques worth Rs44 million under Multi-Donors Trust Fund-funded Economic Revitalization of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (ERKF) project here on Monday.

The ceremony was held under the auspices of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KPCCI). Senior Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sikandar Hayat Sherpao was the chief guest on the occasion. Besides, Special Assistant to KP CM on Industries & Trade Abdul Karim Khan, KPCCI president Zulfikar Ali, provincial chief Smeda, KP Javed Iqbal Khattak, officials of the industries department and a large number of local traders, particularly SME traders affected by insurgency, attended the ceremony.

The US$ 14 million project was launched under the auspices of the World Bank through SMEDA for the rehabilitation of the insurgency and flood affected SMEs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. The project was framed for a total of 850 SMEs however with the better financial management and monitoring the number of the beneficiaries had reached to 1300.

The time duration of the project was from June 2012 to June 2015, but the traditional bureaucratic hurdles delayed the disbursement of grants. Later, the matter was handed over to NAB, which certified it as corruption free project.

During the ceremony, some known businessmen criticized the bureaucratic red-tapism and unnecessary hurdles, demanding action against the concerned officials of the Industries Department of the provincial government.

Addressing the ceremony, Senior Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sikandar Hayat Sherpao appreciated the performance and role of SMEDA Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the implementation of the project and promotion of business activities in the province. He said that the business community of KP and FATA is carrying their duties in very unsuitable situation. He said that KP has potential to make industrial progress. But, peculiar situation and insurgency are inflicting loss to it.

The senior minister said that the province is rich in energy sources, which is essential for development. Presently, he said the province is producing 50% of the total oil production of the country and surplus in natural gas.

But, due to peculiar conditions and regional situation, these resources could not utilize in the benefit of the province. He assured the KPCCI that the provincial government will take benefit of their consultations and will leave no stone unturned in taking them on board in new industrial policy. He said that the preparation of new industrial policy is in progress and the government will include their input in it.

Sikandar Sherpao further assured that the matter of the extension in ERKF project will be taken up with the concerned quarters and he will make all possible efforts in this regard. The matter of the upgradation of chamber will also be resolved, he said.