Ms. Masooma Sibtain, Vice President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry while speaking at a consultative meeting arranged in Islamabad and Peshawar for taking policy level recommendations to develop Women National Business Agenda said that FPCCI has taken the initiative to protect and promote the business interests of the women of the country through Women National Business Agenda – WNBA. She said that there was dire need of raising collective voice of women in the country to formulate gender focus policies for SME development, improved access to finance, support in Export Refinance Scheme, and harmonization of provincial taxes for women owned businesses and start-ups.
Ms. Masooma said that such meetings with women entrepreneurs and stakeholder organizations have been held in all four provincial capitals of Pakistan and on the basis of their recommendations, a WNBA document shall be prepared, that will serve to support women led economic reforms agenda for inclusion in the political party manifesto in the general elections 2018.
She further added that endorsement drive has also been initiated to support WNBA and it was encouraging that FPCCI leadership and Women of Chambers across the country have endorsed WNBA initiative which will provide framework for addressing their key policy related issues.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Hammad Siddque, Country Director Center for International Enterprise – CIPE said that it was encouraging that Political leadership has started working on economic reforms. In WNBA key economic policies are being targeted and the overall objective was to analyze policies with gender angle to support Women Small and Medium Enterprises – WSMEs.
S.M. Muneer, former President FPCCI and former Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan –TDAP highly appreciated the role of Masooma Sibtain for successfully leading WNBA Project. He said that it was important to develop gender inclusive policies because women represent 48 percent of the total population of the country. He said that it was unfortunate that increase in exports has never been the focus of the government as a result the exports of the country has been declining every year. He further added that women entrepreneurs should be given specific incentives to give them opportunities to play their active role in the mainstream.
Participants coined various policy level suggestions and said that there was strong need of tax harmonization, especially in the services sectors different rates of taxes are being applied at provincial level. They said that share of women in key trade related policies should be enhanced so they could be provided opportunities to play their active role in manufacturing and exports. Women entrepreneurs urged to promote tax culture and suggested that FBR should establish separate desks to facilitate women taxpayers. Representative of SECP said that women entrepreneurs should consider to setup companies because it helps them in perpetual succession.
The meeting was attended by Presidents of the Women Chambers of Commerce, Mr. Zubair Tufail, President FPCCI, Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik, Vice President SAARC Chamber, key representatives of FPCCI leadership, representative of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan –SECP, SMEDA, Pakistan Regional Trade Economic Activity – PRIEA and women entrepreneurs from different business sectors.
Lt Col Mukhtar Ahmed Butt (R)
Director Media FPCCI