Centre for Governance & Public Accountability (CGPA) in collaboration with Small & Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) organized a public private dialogue on access to finance by SMEs here the other day, said a press release issued here on Thursday. The event was aimed at discussing the issues faced by business community of Peshawar due to difficulties in access to financing (bank loans for starting or expanding businesses etc.) and also to create awareness regarding the facilities that the banking sector is offering to business community. Entrepreneurs from various trades and official of renowned banks operating in Peshawar as well state bank of Pakistan joined the dialogue session. Those who participated were included Rashid Aman, Provincial Chief SMEDA, Minhaj Ud Din, ex-Chairman All Pakistan Exporters Association, Adnan Jalil , ex-President Peshawar Chamber for Small Traders & Industries. Asif Awan: President Dairy & Livestock Association, Mrs Lubna Tajik United Nation Industrial Development Organization, Ejaz Khan Afridi, Executive Member SCCI, Dr. Tallat Ullah (SME Bank), Abdullah Afridi (SBP), Suleman (SBP) , Bahar Ali Bank Of Khyber Afsheen Malik, ex-VP, Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Abdul Basit Ghani (BoK), Bank Al Habib Ltd. Banks’ official explained what prevailing SME financing schemes are being offered to business community along with parameters considered during the scrutiny process of loan applications. Key steps of the process were also explained for the participant. Business community put forth the unique requirements, which are not currently being addressed. Main hurdles being faced during pursuing loan applications were remained part of the discussion. Common problems identified during the dialogue included lengthy, cumbersome & inflexible loan application procedure, complex documentation requirements, less or inaccurate knowledge about financing scheme is usually explained by most of the bank officials about loans and its application procedure, accounting system adopted by most of the SMEs is not appropriate enough to be considered by bank for approving loans, lack of awareness among business community about financing scheme offered by banks, financing solution tailored to the need of a specific industrial cluster is not offered by any of the bank, for females, opening a business account is difficult procedure, most of the loan applications are scrutinized at head office level. Relevant observations are communicated to the concerned branch for rectification or appropriation which makes the procedure more lengthy, banks should bring Shariah compliance to the financing scheme they offer, Govt is introducing development projects to start & facilitate new businesses, banks may develop their financing scheme that could be tailored to these projects, SBP may develop the standard tracking system for tracking of financing application submitted to banks, account opening for civil society organization is very difficult that needs to be simplified, SBP must also focus on micro-finance segment and regulation as per need of the customer may be developed and applied. Needs of the female entrepreneurs must also be considered while making policies and regulations of micro-financing and specific loan scheme for food processing unit is available at Bank of Khyber. The participants of the dialogue also prepared recommendations for increasing opportunities for business community to avail the financing schemes from different banks and SMEs. The participants stressed need for awareness campaigns by the banks about financing schemes being offered to MSME sector, procedural requirements should be relaxed, documentation should be simplified and initial scrutiny of application may be done by the business community through hiring a consultant and by the concerned bank officer from where the application is filed and adopting of credible accounting system by the business community. Beside, other working areas identified for the dialogues, CGPA has plans for another round of discussion on the same topic, access to finance for further detailed discussion between business community and relevant government authorities.