SMEs confidence plunging due to slowdown. Meaningful intervention in SME sector demanded. Businessmen unable to get containers released.


(May 08, 2020)

FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel SVP, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said business confidence of small SMEs has plunged and will slide further due to economic slowdown.

He said that ninety-six percent businesses fall under the SME category which should be bailed out through a meaningful intervention followed by a proper long-term policy.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader policymakers are too much focused on heavy industry ignoring SME, services agriculture sector which results in frequent food crisis and other issues.

He said that a recent survey comprising 920 SMEs revealed that virus has infected operation of 95 percent SMEs while many lost export orders. Around 23 percent have lost entire export orders, 92 percent faced disruption while 48 percent have fired employees.

Some 89 percent SMEs reported cash problems while 26 percent said that they may rehire former employees if the situation turns favorable.

During the survey, SME owners asked for financial package, tax relief, reduced utility bills, salary support and soft conditions for returning loans.

The former minister noted that finance ministry, commerce ministry, SBP and SMEDA are serving well but the efforts should be expedited.

He informed that there are almost twenty thousand containers stuck at Karachi port but small traders and industrialists are unable to get them released due to scarcity of funds. The situation is putting an additional burden of thousands of dollars in the shape of detention and demurrage charges.

He said that immediate intervention is needed otherwise SME sector providing millions of jobs will suffer and it will damage all the sectors of the economy.