Achieving $150bn export by 2025 possible: Ahsan


ISLAMABAD: Our goal of achieving $150 billion export by 2025 can only be realized through a strong and robust SME sector.” said, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Prof Ahsan Iqbal in Roundtable Conference on “Devising Policies for SME growth” organised by Young Development Fellows (YDFs), in collaboration with Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affair Division.
The Conference was attended by Engr. Khurram Dastgir, Federal Minister for Commerce; Rana Afzal, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Finance; Alamgir Chaudhry, SMEDA; Zulfiqar Thaver, President UNISAME; Junaid Mohmand; Head Operations SME Bank; William Butterfield, Senior Economist USAID and representatives from World Bank, COMSATS, MAJU, USAID, First Women Bank, National University of Science and Technology and several other organisations.
“Pakistan is a country of 100 million dynamic, talented and passionate youth, who form the strongest asset of Pakistan and government is committed to empowering them by providing various opportunities to harness entrepreneurial success through provision of credit for self employment, and internship opportunities to become engine of economic growth.
Federal minister said, “to achieve 8% growth rate, we need out of box solutions, Business as usual is not an option. 
Through Pakistan Vision 2025 we are seeking to establish a new type of collaborative partnership between government, private sector and academia with government formulating supportive public policy; private sector providing investment and universities providing ideas and solutions. 
The trio of government-academia-private sector partnership can bring a transformational change to serve the purpose of inclusive and sustainable development in the country.”
Participants of roundtable discussed several issues that are hindering the performance of Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan. Federal Minister for Commerce Engr Khurram Dastgir highlighted the importance of SME sector in Pakistan in general and in his constituency Gujranwala as particular. 
He focused on learning from the experiences of foreign countries. Commenting on loan mechanism set out by banks, he urged the need to find a balance between difficult conditions and requirements to get a loan for business and encouraging people to apply for a loan. Rana Afzal Khan, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Finance shed light on the role of trade associations and how to strengthen these associations by making them research-oriented. Sectoral approach towards SME sector is also an important issue that needs attention to kick-start growth in SME sector.
The house discussed the idea of having collaboration between universities and private sector. Issues like provision of capital and seed money to start-ups and small businesses, supporting existing ventures, strengthening franchise system, documentation of success stories, partnership of SMEDA with business schools, enticing micro-finance and commercial banks to finance entrepreneurs and reducing risk factor, revitalizing and revamping banking court system and regulatory framework and training/capacity-building of entrepreneurs among others were deliberated upon.
The conference was organised by Young Development Fellows (YDFs) of Planning Commission. This conference was a second installment of various roundtable conferences YDFs plan to organize on issues of national importance. Last week a roundtable on interfaith harmony was organized by YDFs.

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