Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday offered to provide easy loans worth Rs 3.7 billion to help empower the country’s youth.
In the past, Premier Nawaz said, only influential businesspersons were eligible for bank loans. Almost 70% of the country’s population did not have access to loans, he told the first balloting ceremony of the Business Youth Loan Scheme at Islamabad’s Convention Centre.
“It is the youth that will lead the nation by playing their role in strengthening the economy,” Nawaz said adding that young entrepreneurs would not only be working in different sectors but would also help generate jobs for others.
Around 38,000 applications, including 28,000 from Punjab, 600 from Islamabad Capital Territory, 3,500 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 100 from Gilgit-Baltistan, 1,000 from Balochistan, 500 from Azad Kashmir and 3,000 from Sindh have been received under the youth loan programme, a statement released from the prime minister’s office stated.
Out of the total 6,127 were approved for balloting, of which 5,399 would be given loans.
In his speech, Nawaz said that the applicants were selected on the basis of the provincial quota. Some 100,000 loans are to be offered every year.
Speaking on the country’s economy, he maintained that the country’s GDP showed a growth of five per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, 17 per cent increase in taxes while the industrial growth was recorded 6.6 per cent until December 2013.
“Nothing was being done for the uplift of country in the past and that is why the people have been suffering due to long hours of load-shedding,” Nawaz said. He added that resolving the energy crisis was the country’s priority and since the government has assumed power, loadshedding hours have been cut down.
He said there was still a shortfall of 7,000 MW and the government would not only reduce this gap but would produce 20,000 to 25,000 MW of electricity.
The prime minister said work on Karachi-Lahore Motorway would soon commence whereas Lahore-Multan, Sukkur-Multan and Sukkur-Hyderabad sections would be completed.
The head of the Prime Minister’s Business Youth Programme Maryam Nawaz on the occasion said that female applicants from Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory have been selected through balloting while all the female applications from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir had been approved.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2014.