Punjab govt to provide SMEDA-style business models to startups

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LAHORE: The Punjab Finance Ministry on Wednesday directed the provincial industries department to provide Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA)-style business models to the new startups along with the provision of vocational training and convenient loans.

Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, while presiding over the 41st meeting of the cabinet standing committee on finance and development, said the provision of a business model can minimize the risk of loss for new startups.

The meeting made more than 14 recommendations for various departments, including new expenditures for South Punjab Secretariat (SNE), increase in house rent, purchase and sale of equipment, import waiver on infrastructure development cess, sales tax exemption on public-private partnership projects, tax relief to marriage halls, establishment of M&R Wing under Public Health Engineering Department, and recruitment approvals for Multan Development Authority.

After detailed deliberations, the committee approved the recommendations on the additional expenditure to set up South Punjab Secretariat, abolition of infrastructure development cess on import of Covid-related goods and exemption of public-private partnership projects from sales tax on services for five years.

Moreover, the previous agendas of the department of specialized health and medical education including setting up the maternal and child health centres in Bahawalnagar and Sialkot were also approved by the committee.

The committee postponed the recommendations on tax relief to marriage halls and establishment of M&R wing while the Multan Development Authority (MDA) was allowed only one-third of the recommended recruitment, whereas the responsibility of selecting the candidates was handed over to the secretary of housing and public health engineering.

“Marriage halls have already been given relief in sales tax and any further decision in this regard will be taken keeping in view the future situation of Covid-19,” Bakht stated.

The committee also expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the MDA and the provincial finance minister also directed the secretary housing and public health engineering department to review all the financial matters and schemes of the authority and brief the committee on the performance status.

The committee further discussed the issues related to guarantee in Punjab employment scheme and provision of funds such as loans on easy instalments for low-cost houses at provincial level.

The secretary industries informed the committee that besides Bank of Punjab, National Bank of Pakistan is also being involved in launching the scheme.

Addressing the meeting, Bakht said, “The South Punjab Secretariat was not set up for the political number game. Its purpose is to provide facilities to the people at the local level and improve administrative matters. A full briefing should be given on the details of South Punjab Secretariat appointments, expenses and working procedures. If the problems of the applicants are not resolved even in the presence of a separate secretariat, then its establishment is useless.”

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