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Traders urge SMEDA to resume legal aid committee

KARACHI:

Trade unions have asked for the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) to re-initiate the legal aid committee that is free and improve it on the model of Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC).

Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) Chairman Zulfikar Thamver has stressed the need for SMEDA should create an SME Liaison Committee on the model of CPLC to serve as an intermediary between small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and government agencies/ departments.

The importance of connecting the sector with department of government, he urged SMEDA to create a legal aid sub-committee that is free in the form of a liaison committee.

He was reminded that SMEDA had a free legal aid committee prior to.

A plan was put forward to end the committee by then acting CEO of the authority Pervez Elahi, in 2011 Elahi said.

The idea of closing the committee for legal assistance was scrapped because of the strong opposition from the members, he added.

However, due to the lack of staff and a heavy workload the program was eventually halted the man lamented.

He urged SMEDA to reinstate the free legal aid committee to benefit the SMEs.

“We have volunteered to run it on our own, we only require guidance and assistance ,” Thaver emphasised. “We just need Desks at SMEDA headquarters across the nation.”

SME specialist Assad Chauhan emphasized that “SMEs are being treated with a snide manner by a variety of agencies, which behave as policemen, rather than accommodating regulators”.

He was of the opinion of the SME Liaison Committee was necessary due to the dictatorial character of its officials, who have hurt the development of SMEs “as they’re now reluctant to expand or upgrade”.

He claimed that as a result of various laws, rules, as well as regulations SMEs required to invest the necessary time in learning and remain vigilant about their prompt fulfillment.

“The SMEs cannot miss out on any of these and, if one is not taken into consideration or missed, the business owners are pressured by corrupt officials to pay bribes despite the fact that the law says that a warning is enough,” Thaver said.

“In some instances mistakes can be defended, but SMEs are forced to bear the feet of these officials,” he lamented.

The liaison committee can play its function effectively by protecting entrepreneurs, he stated.

Additionally, the committee could stop the infringement of laws or rules and regulations, he said. Thaver added that the committee could organize/manage the collective guards and watchmen in industrial areas, and enforce strict security measures.

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