KARACHI: Pakistan’s economy has started growing in real terms as gross domestic product (GDP) grew more than inflation numbers last year, said State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa.
Addressing the second Pakistan Banking Awards 2017 ceremony, he said, “Previously, economic growth was lower than inflation, however, now the growth is higher than inflation.”
The event was jointly organised by the Institute of Bankers Pakistan and AF Ferguson. The awards were given to banks in eight categories, said a press statement.
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The SBP governor said that after a long hiatus the country’s economy was on the right path, adding last year Pakistan achieved 5.3% growth and this year the growth would be 6%.
He urged banks to focus on agricultural and SME financing for higher economic growth. The central bank disbursed Rs700 billion in agricultural loans last fiscal year. The SBP has set a target for this year at Rs1.001 trillion to support agriculture, which is one of the largest sectors of the economy.
The agricultural sector “contributes some 27% to the GDP growth, however, bank’s lending to this sector is about 4.5%,” he said.
The governor said the financial sector, particularly the banking sector, played a pivotal role in determining the overall economic growth and development of the nation.
“Banking industry is playing an instrumental role when it comes to inclusion - approximately 800 new branches are opened every year in urban and rural areas; products like SMS banking, mobile banking, internet banking are playing a critical role to make inclusion possible.”
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Bank Alfalah Limited was declared Pakistan’s Best Bank. The “Bank the Unbanked” award and “Best Microfinance Bank” award were won by Telenor Microfinance Bank.
Habib Bank Limited secured the “Best Bank for Small Businesses and Agriculture” award. United Bank Limited was declared the “Best Bank for Corporate Finance & Capital Market Development”.
Bank Alfalah Limited also secured the “Best Customer Franchise” award. Meezan Bank bagged the “Best Islamic Bank” award. “Best Environmental, Social and Governance Bank” award was presented to JS Bank.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2017.
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