KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) on Saturday appreciated the setting up of help line for banking consumers by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and welcomed the initiative of Tariq Bajwa, the governor SBP in launching the helpline service and instructing banks to display the contact number at every branch.
Zulfikar Thaver president UNISAME and chairman Capacity Building Working Group under NFIS urged the SBP governor to take steps to ensure access to finance for the micro to medium sized sector. He complained that although finance has become affordable for the SMEs it has not become affordable for the micro entrepreneurs who are paying almost 25% and above which is considered high.
The higher medium and the medium sector are to some extent accommodated by the commercial banks but the small entrepreneurs are not and in fact they are referred to as the missing middle because the micro finance banks find their requirements beyond their caps and the commercial banks find their requirements of borrowing small.
Thaver urged the SBP governor to revive the SME Bank as an SME specific bank to accommodate all the borrowers from micro to medium.
He pinpointed that unless the banks are well versed in risk and collateral management the issue will remain therefore it is very necessary that they are educated in the subjects along with training. The Institute of Bankers could play an important role and SBP needs to sponsor such a programme.
The Steering Committee chaired by governor SBP under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) having its secretariat at SBP and which is under the shared leadership of World Bank, SBP and Ministry of Finance needs to put the access to finance and SME promotion and development on fast track.
Other most important aspect of financing is the financing of SME farmers to free them from the clutches of the middlemen who not only charge heavy interest but get a lien on the crops disabling sale in open market at fair prices. The Union has urged Tariq Bajwa governor SBP to resolve the issues on priority.