ISLAMABAD - Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry has appreciated the statement of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for providing loans ranging from Rs.100,000 to Rs.200,000 to youth at 8% mark up for starting their own business as it will engage youth in entrepreneurship and give boost to economic activities.

Zafar Bakhtawari, President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, also lauded the move of government for allocating an amount of Rs.2 billion for macro-finance to encourage small businesses and hoped that it will lead to better growth of SMEs in the country. However, he said keeping in view the huge potential of small businesses growth, this amount is insufficient and government should allocate more funds for SMEs development.

He said Pakistan is witnessing a youth bulge and government should come up with more attractive schemes and provide easy access to finance to fully harness the youth potential by involving them in entrepreneurship that would lead to higher productivity and fast economic growth. He said Pakistan is passing through a phase of slow economic growth and engaging youth in business activity could be the most effective tool to accelerate the pace of economic development. It is not possible for government to provide jobs to all youngsters and government should focus on youth entrepreneurship development, which is the best solution for reducing unemployment. It will also boost economic activity, create new jobs and improve tax revenue of the government. He said realizing the importance of SMEs for economic development; USA, European countries, China, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Philippines and many other countries have developed various policies and institutions to facilitate small businesses and Pakistan should adopt the same approach to steer the economy out of current difficulties.

For this purpose, government should give priority to addressing the issues of regulatory framework, financial availability, technical support, training facilities and research & development facilities that will help the youth to unleash their talent for the economic development of Pakistan. Zafar Bakhtawari also suggested that government should partner with Chambers of Commerce & Industry of the country to help youth in starting their own business as Chambers have the professional expertise and know-how to guide youth in becoming successful entrepreneurs.