MULTAN: State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Reza Baqir on Tuesday said the prime objective of the SBP was to facilitate the business community at all levels.
Addressing the Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive committee members here, he said that the SBP Asaan Finance Scheme (SAAF) would be a game changer in enhancing access to finance to the SMEs as it would address the long outstanding challenge of lack of collateral faced by them. He thanked MCCI president Khawaja Muhammad Hussain for inviting him to visit and spoke at length about significance of SMEs in Pakistan.
Governor Dr Baqir highlighted that with the objective of stimulating sustainable economic growth of the country, the State Bank of Pakistan had been taking various initiatives to facilitate the business community. Some of the major initiatives, included introduction of a unique collateral free loan scheme for SMEs; SME Asaan Finance (SAAF), SBP’s concessionary refinance schemes for different sectors, measures taken to combat the COVID-19 effects, digitisation of banking systems and persuasion of banks to enhance financing to business community especially priority sectors.
Governor Reza Baqir said that COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented catastrophe that affected the economic life of individuals and businesses nationally and internationally. He highlighted that the proactive policy response by the SBP during COVID times especially refinance schemes, i.e. TERF and Rozgar, not only provided a breathing space to employees of the business community, but also laid down sound foundations for medium to long term industrialisation in the country.
He said to provide affordable housing to masses, the SBP was working rigorously on the implementation of the government’s Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar (MPMG) scheme. This facility allowed individuals, who were constructing or buying a new house for the first time, to avail bank’s financing at subsidised and affordable mark-up rates.
A complaint resolution mechanism was also available through an online complaint management system for MPMG since January 2021, he added. He suggested that the MCCI could play an active role in creating awareness among employees of its members to avail financing under the MPMG.
Later, Reza Baqir witnessed a cheque distribution ceremony held to mark the disbursement of the first set of loans by a private bank under the SME Asaan Finance (SAAF) scheme. Under the scheme, SMEs can avail collateral free financing of up to Rs 10 million at the concessionary end-user rate of up to 9pc per annum to meet their long term capital expenditure and short term working capital needs. The scheme also offers reasonable spread to banks to enable them invest in their processes, systems, human resource and technology so that when the SAAF scheme concludes, banks are able to continue the collateral free financing on a sustainable basis.