Small units, medium on the default threshold | Instant News



ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has called on the government to complete a bailout package for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that were affected by the corona virus in the beginning to save them from default and extinction.

In a statement on Wednesday, ICCI President Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said business and industrial companies had suspended operations for the past month after Covid-19 and business activities had been destroyed.

He urged the government to complete a rescue package for SMEs as soon as possible because the business had pinned their hopes on the country’s leadership and hoped for relief measures because of the current situation.

“Because of the closure of industry, workers without jobs and industrialists are meeting their daily food needs,” he said. “The due date for paying commercial and industrial utility bills is getting closer and if locking continues for a long time, many SMEs will default.”

The president of the chamber added that due to the coronavirus pandemic, many countries have announced aid packages for SMEs but the Pakistani government has not been able to provide assistance.

By making SMEs the economic backbone, he stressed that the government must announce priority-based bailout packages in an effort to alleviate their problems.

He praised the State Bank of Pakistan for increasing regulatory limits on credit extension for SMEs, but stressed that bank mark-ups on loans must be lowered to below 5% so that small units can obtain easy credit to revive business activities.

“SMEs have obtained loans from banks for expansion and new investment,” he said, adding “the government must postpone the loans with mark-ups for three to six months and allow borrowers to pay in easy installments, which will reduce their difficulties.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2020.

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