SMEs State Bank of Pakistan Executive Director Samar Hasnain stated that over the past two years, SBP has been closely monitoring the Bank-Loan performance shown by the Small and Medium enterprises all over the country, and found it heartening to note that the financial performance of the SMEs, while utilising bank loans, has shown significant improvement.

He was addressing to the Annual Pakistan SME Forum 2014 organised by Shamrock Conferences International.

The theme of the 8th consecutive conference for this year was “Bringing SMEs to the forefront of National Priorities”.

Samar Hasnain urged the banks and financial institutions to extend generous financial support to this essential sector which demands some extra analytical measures, but promises very safe and healthy returns for the regulated banking sector, as the default ratio of SMEs has always been less than one percent.

In the inaugural session, The CEO of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), Muhammad Alamgir Chaudhry dilated on the state of the SME sector, stating that SMEDA is committed to provide a conducive regulatory and technological environment for the SMEs. It conducts extensive research to strategically develop clusters and sectors in the SME arena. SMEDA has launched numerous facilitation programmes to foster investment, productivity and competitiveness among the SMEs. The government realises that 90pc of the workforce in Pakistan is employed by the SME sector.

President of Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) and Director SMEDA,  Zulfikar Thaver said that credit guarantee, export house for SME marketing support and incentives are basic need of the SMEs. “There should be a separate Export Promotion Bureau, Engineering Development Board and an Ombudsman dedicated for the SMEs,” he added.

Anjum Nisar, Director of Export Processing Zones (EPZ) indicated that the energy crisis and poor law & order are major impediments in the growth of our SMEs. Pakistan needs to urgently build new large dams to overcome the electricity shortage.

E-Commerce specialist from the UK, Salman Merchant deliberated on the increasingly critical role of E-Commerce, which promises highly productive and low-cost advantages for the SME entrepreneurs. If Pakistan is able to establish a credible online brand for its SME products, we can accelerate the growth of our SMEs tremendously. However, he also highlighted the need for creating a fool-proof cyber security mechanism for our online business ventures. Ecommerce allows you to do more with less. Very specific target marketing is possible with online businesses and it costs as cheap as Rs2000 a month, while there is no need to pay any rent for your shop, he added.

Earlier, during his inaugural address, Menin Rodrigues, Convener & Chairman of Shamrock Conferences International lauded the productivity of SMEs stating, “According to research estimates in South Asian countries; every one rupee of investment in fixed assets in the SME sector, produces around Rs4 worth of goods and services, with an approximate value addition of 10 percentage points”.