PTI’s adjournment motion regarding bank merger dismissed

Real purpose of merger is to bail out another crony, claims PTI MPA

Our Correspondent November 22, 2017
Sindh Assembly. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly dismissed on Tuesday Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) adjournment motion regarding the merger of a private bank, Summit Bank, with state owned Sindh Bank.

PTI MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman requested speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to adjourn all proceeding to discuss this matter, which according to him is an issue of public importance.

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 “The merger of Summit Bank with Sindh Bank seems like nepotism and favoritism to help someone,” said Zaman. He added that this intervention is not in the interest of Sindh as the private bank incurs huge losses every year. “In the financial year 2016, Summit Bank accumulated losses of Rs9.5 billion, whereas Sindh Bank, for the same period, gained a profit of Rs1.40 billion and a total shareholders’ equity of Rs15.5 billion,” he said. He claimed that the merger did not make any sense on financial basis, adding that it could erode the equity base of the Sindh Bank.

“The Summit Bank is a loss-making entity and the merger will allow the former to recover their money through shares of the latter,” he alleged. He demanded the chief minister to explain the issue and that he would challenge this decision in court if it was decided.

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While opposing the adjournment motion, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that the Summit Bank was a functional bank and once merged, the Sindh Bank’s branches would reach to 492. “The decision will be made after consultation with other beneficiaries as the Sindh Bank is also a commercial bank and has different shareholders,” said Khuhro. He added that the government is considering the merger as an option. He questioned why Sindh Bank should not come up with ideas to expand its networks when Punjab Bank could open its branches in Sindh. He remarked that the adjournment motion was technically not fit to be discussed in the session. On his remarks, Durrani termed the adjournment motion out of order.

While speaking to The Express Tribune Zaman said that Summit Bank, which was previously known as Arif Habib Bank, is being merged to appease a person. “I cannot disclose the name but it is no secret that Summit Bank’s ownership group has close ties with PPP,” he said.

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He added that Sindh Bank has 260 branches, with a staff of 1,816, while Summit Bank has 192 branches with a staff of 3,022.  “With this decision, the state-run bank will inherit the bloated organsation,” he alleged. He claimed that this situation is similar to the Sindh New Captive Power Plant Subsidy Bill, 2017, which was passed in the provincial assembly to appease PPP leadership. “It appears that the real purpose of this merger is to bail out another crony,” said Zaman.

Maternity leave

The Assembly adopted a resolution to grant 90 days maternity leave to the working women with salary and other benefits in private organisations. The resolution was moved by Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz MPA Sorath Thebo. In her speech, she demanded that 120 days leave be granted but Khuhro suggested 90 days as it has been implemented in government departments.

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Thebo said that pregnant women are not granted leave in private companies which compelled them to tender resignations from work.  Dr Seema Zia of PIT supported the resolution and referred to developed countries where maternal leave is a year-long. “At least six months are essential for a woman to look after new born baby, otherwise it will negatively affect the lives of the mother and her child,” she said. PPP’s Ghazala Siyal, Shamim Mumtaz and Khuhro also spoke on the occasion.

The assembly also adopted a resolution demanding the government to expedite the process to establish small industries/factories in various districts of the province to generate livelihood resources and boost the economy. The resolution was moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan MPA Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani.  However, MQM MPA Rana Ansar, in her resolution, demanded the government to ensure provisions of mandatory gates at all railways crossings for the safety and security of people. In a resolution moved by Muhammad Saleem Rajput of MQM, the house criticised un-announced loadshedding of electricity and gas in various districts of Sindh. The assembly also adopted a resolution to establish various trade zones in Sindh.

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After brief discussion, the speaker adjourned the session till today (Wednesday).


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