Karachi: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has invited the attention of the government of its promise in the SME policy 2007 of empowering the sector with its own ombudsman.
The SME units are subject to visits by different agencies and the inspecting officers pinpoint several rules and regulations and subdue the entrepreneurs by scaring them with sections of law which are not applicable for SME units and cottage industries. The inspectors give the impression that some big violation has taken place and treat irregularities as illegalities. Non renewal of a license is an irregularity and not having a license is an illegality but the departmental officers scare the SME units to extract unlawful gains and it is very important for the sector to have an ombudsman to protect the SMEs.
President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said being impressed and inspired by the services provided to the common man by the ombudsman, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Policy 2007 made by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) Ministry of Industries and Production, Government of Pakistan, envisaged and recommended the appointment of an SME Ombudsman to represent the interest of the small business community by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or violation of rights. The typical duties of an ombudsman are to investigate complaints and attempt to resolve them, usually through recommendations.. Ombudsmen sometimes also aim to identify systemic issues leading to poor service or breaches of people’s rights. In some countries the ombudsman also promote and protect human rights.
The small businessmen community is facilitated by the ombudsman and is offered help and support against grievances which are redressed after investigation and the departments are issued instructions if the complaint is genuine. The SMEs are sometimes bothered by the various departments and their inspection teams which visit the SME units and find fault to penalize them by sometimes misinterpreting the laws for illegal gratification. If the entrepreneur is convinced that the officer is trying to get the better of him then the entrepreneur can lodge a complaint against the behaviour of the officer or inspector.
The SME feels confident, secured and comfortable that no government officer can trample his/her rights and behave high highhandedly for surely the aggrieved can lodge a complaint with the ombudsman and will get relief free of charge.
In fact till such time an SME ombudsman is appointed under the SME policy a working arrangement can be made with the provincial ombudsmen to entertain complaints of the business community and a separate desk be provided for prompt redress for complaints of the sector.
UNISAME has informed the SME sector about the role of the different ombudsman available for seeking redress for their grievances. Besides the provincial and federal ombudsman there are federal tax, banking and insurance ombudsman and the SMEs can file their complaints with them relating to the specific grievance and the subject matter.
The ombudsmen are providing special free of charge services to the aggrieved and it is very important that the common man should know about the role of the ombudsman both provincial and federal and the services provided by their offices. The role of the ombudsman is remarkable for protection of rights and redress of grievances but definitely needs to be widely publicized. Unfortunately the common man does not know that he/she can knock at the doors of the ombudsman easily without any fees and without an advocate. A complaint can also be lodged online and this facility offered by the ombudsman also needs to be highlighted.
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