Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, President of FPCCI, has emphasised that the government policies should protect, emancipate and enable the cottage industry in Pakistan as it employs 10 million people in the country – bridging a massive employment gap left out by other sectors and industries.
It is pertinent to note that FPCCI’s Standing Committee on Cottage Industry organized a high-profile meeting on the burning issues of cottage industry; which was well-attended and well-represented from across Sindh province.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh explained that, as matter of fact, there are many developed and quickly developing economies in the world who built their socioeconomic transformation; import substitution capacities and GDP per Capita growth on the basis of a large number of diverse cottage industries. China, India, Bangladesh and Brazil are some of the glaring examples of the power of the cottage industry, he added.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh informed that the World Bank research shows that MSMEs generate 50 percent of all employment in the world; and, they are involved in 90 percent of all economic activities – one way or the other. Cottage industry is particularly important for Pakistan as the country is in the dire need to alleviate poverty in the rural areas; and, we cannot bring the entire workforce to the urban centers and the cottage industry is the answer to that dilemma.
Mr. Shabbir Mansha, VP FPCCI, elaborated that the share of cottage industry in Pakistan’s exports is merely 25 percent; while, in India, it is 42.6 percent. This is telling as it highlights the fact that the cottage industry is neglected in Pakistan; and, FPCCI, being the apex body, is all willing to be the voice of cottage industry in the government and policy-making circles.
Mr. Shabbir Mansha stressed that small traders need to have their chambers in every city and every district in the length and breadth of the country; for example, women entrepreneurs have successfully established their chambers in 5 districts of Karachi.
Mr. Naeem Mir, Chairman of the Supreme Council of All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran, said that to resolve the issues of small traders, a number of robust steps need to be undertaken: (i) small traders need to establish their own chambers across Pakistan (ii) all small traders should be encouraged to become active tax filers to enable them claim their rights from the government (iii) Authorities should revise the definition of SMEs and the lower limit of PKR. 2 million should be abolished; and, all small businesses should be included.
Mr. Abdul Rehman Khan, Convener of FPCCI’s Standing Committee on Cottage Industry, maintained that the world has moved from SMEs classification to MSMEs; which is Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); and, includes all small businesses – irrespective of their size, turnover and number of employees.