ISLAMABAD (APP) - Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Muhammmad Kamran Shehzad has stressed the need for close co-operation among all the stakeholders for economic development of the country. According to an State Bank of Pakistan press release, while speaking at the Gujrat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GTCCI) on Thursday, Shehzad said the State Bank, commercial banks and the business community should work towards a common goal of economic growth and prosperity of the people of Pakistan. He said Gujrat was one of the important SME and agricultural hubs of the country, adding that the State Bank of Pakistan recognized the crucial role being played by Gujrat-based businessmen in the overall economic development of the country. The SBP Deputy Governor outlined some of the important initiatives taken by SBP to facilitate greater flow of credit to the SME sector. He informed the participants that State Bank of Pakistan, under its Financial Inclusion Program with the UK Department for International Development (DFID), is initiating a project for launching Credit Guarantee Scheme in Pakistan to share risks with the lending institutions and meet funding needs of Small & Rural Enterprises. Similarly, in order to improve the flow of financing to SMEs indicative targets for SME Finance are assigned to banks, which serve as an important benchmark to measure the banks performance in terms of increased SME portfolio. Shehzad said that for improving bankers capacity to serve the SME sector, SBP has been conducting training programs with greater participation from regional SME bankers. He also talked about establishment of Development Finance Support Department (DFSD) at State Bank of Pakistan Banking Services Corporation (SBPBSC) and its field units at SBPBSC Offices for continuous interaction with stakeholders at grassroots level. He said State Bank of Pakistan was also conducting several awareness and information dissemination programs in collaboration with banks to bring bankers and the business community closer. Referring to the issue of higher mark-up rates, which is frequently raised by the business community, Shehzad said, though the mark-up rates appear to be higher in nominal terms, the real lending rates (nominal interest rate less inflation rate) have remained negative for quite some time and turned positive only recently. Nevertheless, the real lending rates in Pakistan are much lower as compared to most of other countries in the region, he said and added that based on the latest available information, the real lending rate in Pakistan is only 0.4 percent as compared to 9.5 percent in Indonesia, 7.6 percent each in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, 4.2 percent in Malaysia and 0.8 percent in India. Earlier, President GTCCI and other members of the chamber apprised the Deputy Governor of different problems being faced by the business community of Gujrat.