ACCA, Smeda working for SMEs development

LAHORE - The ACCA Pakistan and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) are striving hard to overcome the barriers deterring rapid growth of SMEs in Pakistan. This was stated by the speakers while addressing an SME conference hosted by the ACCA Pakistan held with a view to launch its SME Policy with the support of SMEDA and Shell Tameer. The welcome address was delivered by Arif Masud Mirza, head of the ACCA Pakistan. The speakers said that the conference served as a unique opportunity to create linkages between entrepreneurs, policy makers, SME consultants and ACCA members. Rehmatullah Javaid, Chairman LCCI's Standing Committee on SMEs, Jamil Afaqi, GM, Policy and Planning, SMEDA, Dr Afra Sajjad, Head Education and Policy Development ACCA, Chas Raoy Chowdhury, Head Taxation ACCA, Irfan Ilyas, Partner, MGI Ilyas Saeed and Co, Dr Ikramul Haq, Ms Rosana Mirkovic, M Yawar Irfan and Jamil Afaqi addressed morning sessions of the conference. The speakers said that the conference provided a useful forum to discuss the challenges faced by SMEs in the current global economic climate and proposed pragmatic solutions to the key issues impeding growth of this crucial sector of country's economy. In his remarks Mr Arif Masud, Head of ACCA Pakistan, highlighted that significance of SME sector to Pakistan's economy and said that, with 63,000 members working for or advising small firms around the world, ACCA is proud to be the accountancy body most closely affiliated to the small business sector. He said that this conference intended to provide a platform for expert deliberations that will help entrepreneurship flourish and encourage policies that hold SME business benefit at its heart. SMEDA Chief Mr Shahid Rashid pointed out that bank lending to SMEs had declined from 17% to 12% of the total bank loans in Pakistan this year. He informed that a sum of Rs.375 billion was sanctioned by banks and DFIs for SMEs last year covering 182 SMEs only as beneficiaries to this lending. He acknowledged that State Bank of Pakistan had been endeavoring to increase lending to SMEs. "But, still we need to do a lot of work to change mind set of the bankers to facilitate more bank lending to the SMEs", he added. Mr. Rehmatullah Javaid, while speaking on behalf of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce, paid rich tribute to SMEDA for serving the cause of SMEs in a befitting manner despite scarcity of resources. He suggested doubling the budget of SMEDA to let this vibrant organization continue its dedicated services for SME sector that had been the most neglected sector in the past. Dr. Afra Sajjad, Head of Education and Policy Development of ACCA Pakistan outlined the salient features of the ACCA SME policy launched at the event. The SME policy identifies some common themes relevant to SMEs, where active support by government and SME stakeholders can make a significant contribution towards enhancing SME's experience in their ability to do business. Chas Roy Chowdhury, Head of Taxation of ACCA, Ms. Rosana Marsovic, SME Policy Advisor and Professor Robin Jarvis, Head of SME Affairs of ACCA joined the conference via video conferencing from UK.

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