The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) president Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo has expressed his dismay at the interest rate of up to 9pc under the State Bank of Pakistan’s SME Asaan Finance Scheme (SAAF). However, he noted, the loan rate of 9 percent makes it costly for small businesses, as well as unproductive and unsupportive. As a welcome development, SBP has picked eight banks to receive financing under the SAAF Scheme, but it does not make economic and commercial sense to allow these eight banks to charge up to 8pc on top of SBP’s 1pc lending cost, Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo stated. For SMEs, Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo has argued that the SAAF plan should not have an interest rate of more than 3.0pc, i.e., one percent from the SBP and two percent from the banks’ margin. In the post-pandemic context, FPCCI Chief declared that no SMEs in the world can acquire capital at 9pc and pay it back without going bankrupt. That’s not all: The SBP has taken an unsupportive and discriminating position toward small businesses by setting the maximum interest rate under its TERF Scheme at 3 percent for larger corporations and business groups, he said. Iftikhar Ghani Vohra, Convener of FPCCI’s Central Standing on SMEs, said that based on the responses from across Pakistan, he can say that SMEs are not happy with the excessive interest rate; 9 percent will make the SAAF Scheme unsustainable for them. During a meeting with SBP officials in mid-September, Mr. Iftikhat Ghani Vohra said that his committee expressed its concerns in great detail. No change in interest rates has been announced despite FPCCI’s worries. According to Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo, he disagrees with SBP’s declaration that all stakeholders have been included in the SAAF Scheme, as FPPCI’s proposal has not been taken into consideration. According to him, the FPCCI is Pakistan’s top representative body for all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), chambers and associations, and is, therefore, the most important stakeholder in the development of policies that affect SMEs.