Islamabad    -   Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that promotion of small and medium enterprises, development of agriculture and provision of all-out facilities to construction sector are among top priorities of the government.

Chairing a meeting of the government’s economic team here on Friday, the Prime Minister said focusing on these sectors will not only accelerate the economic process but will also create employment opportunities in the country.

Imran while agreeing to the proposal of imposing fixed tax on construction sector and declaring it as an industry directed the departments concerned to deliberate on it and a report be presented in this regard. The Prime Minister also directed the Advisor on Commerce to further activate SMEDA in order to improve coordination between federal and provincial departments and to remove obstacles in the way of development of SMEs. He also appreciated the efforts of Chairman Ehsaas Programme Dr Sania Nishtar in social development and poverty alleviation.

The meeting reviewed in detail the steps taken for the development of small and medium enterprises, promotion of construction industry, progress on the flagship programme of government on poverty alleviation ‘Ehsaas’ and steps taken by various ministries for development of economy.

Governor State Bank of Pakistan gave a detailed briefing on the steps taken by central bank for the promotion of small and medium enterprises.

The Prime Minister was informed that SMEs have a ninety percent share in national business activities and regulatory framework for the small industries has been further simplified.

Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the meeting on various public welfare schemes under the Ehsaas Programme, including scholarships for students, health facilities, technical education, legal assistance, ration scheme, kifalat programme, nutrition programme, financial assistance for education, and Sehat Insaaf Programme.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan while chairing a high-level meeting regarding facilitation of business community, especially small and medium class industrialists, and to protect labourers’ rights has emphasised on provision of all possible facilitation to industry for creating job opportunities.

The Prime Minister said registration of industrial units is necessary for protection of rights of workers and labourers. He said provision of facilities for registered industrial units is equally important to avoid any interruption in the industrial process. The meeting principally agreed on inspector Less Regime in Punjab and a third-party inspection process concerning essential procedures. The Prime Minister directed to prepare a strategy in this regard.

He was briefed about problems being faced by industrial units in Punjab from various government departments in the name of inspection. A detailed briefing was also given on the procedure to protect industrial workers’ rights and measures to further improve the provision of health, education, and other facilities to labourers.

The Prime Minister was informed that there are 226,600 industrial units in Punjab and electricity connections to 55,435 of them have been disconnected.

However, 22,475 industrial units are registered with Punjab Labour Department, 77,448 with Social Security Department, and around 63,500 units registered with Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI).

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 24,415 industrial units are registered with the Labour Department. Imran was told that non-registration of industrial units with relevant departments adversely affects rights of workers and labourers, while on the other hand, harassment of registered units by various government departments in the name of inspection, slows down the process of industrial development.