Opposition lawmakers on Tuesday came down hard on the government after they discovered that banks and financial institutions have written off over Rs22 billion loans so far during the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
This revelation was made in written reply by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to a question from MNA Jamshed Dasti. Dar’s detailed reply was placed in the library of the house, and a number of lawmakers rushed to scan the document.
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Dr Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) brought a copy of the document with him in the house and asked the government if it wanted to sell off the national flag carrier — the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) — because of Rs22 billion losses. “If this is the case, then it can make good this loss by collecting these waived loans,” he said.
Another member of his party said most of the banks on the list extended favour to influential individuals on taxpayers’ money. Many influential people registered their industries and corporations in the name of their family members, he added.
Interestingly, the number of lucky beneficiaries of this largesse is less than 400 while the number of banks and financial institutions which wrote off the loans is around 29.
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According to the document, over Rs70 billion has been written off by these banks and financial organisations. But independent observers believe there can be some typographical errors in the list as the figure cannot be more than Rs25 billion. However, no one from the finance ministry clarified this point. According to the document, the state-owned National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) alone wrote off Rs371.44 million loans.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2016.
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