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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday launched the 'Kamyab Jawan Programme' under which young men and women would be provided with loans to set up their businesses and also given a set of educational and skill-development opportunities.
A sum of Rs100 billion has been allocated for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government's flagship initiative for the welfare of the country's youth. Of this amount, Rs25 billion has been set aside for women. Loans of up to Rs100,000 will be interest-free while those ranging between Rs100,000 and Rs500,000 in two other categories will be concessionary ones provided at low interest rates.
The programme is expected to benefit one million young people. The loans will be distributed on a priority basis in 45 underprivileged districts.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the programme at Islamabad's Convention Centre attended by young people from across the country, the prime minister said the government had launched the project despite facing a severe financial crunch.
He added that the most important aspect of the programme was merit.
"The loans will be granted purely on merit," he said. "They [loans] will also be given to the people of Maulana Fazlur Rehman," he added, taking a jibe at the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief who has announced staging an anti-government long march to Islamabad later this month.
"This is the first [National] assembly that is running without diesel," he said, further quipping about Fazl.
Explaining further about the programme, the premier said Rs10 billion would be spent on the development of skills among the youth. "We will help provide placements and apprenticeship to 25,000 people," he said. "Smart laboratories will be set up for distance learning and at least 200 teachers will be sent abroad for training."
"The programme will also arrange internships through which 25,000 young people will be connected with industries," the premier said.
PM Imran also said 500 laboratories would be established in seminaries for skill-based learning.
"For the first time in the country, the government has decided to treat the students of madrassas as its own. For this purpose we are bringing reforms so that seminary students are taught both modern and religious education."
The prime minister also announced the creation of a National Youth Development Foundation as a networking group for youngsters across the country so they could coordinate regarding employment opportunities and find out about job openings from each other.
He said he would personally monitor the programme and ensure that minorities as well as those with special abilities were provided with equal opportunities.
There are six initiatives under the Kamyab Jawan Programme. Through the 'Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme', the government will provide subsidised business loans to young aspiring entrepreneurs for the promotion of the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector.
The 'Skill for All Programme' will impart technical and vocational training to 150,000 youth, both in conventional and high-end technological trades.
The 'Startup Pakistan Programme' will train potential young entrepreneurs to help them conceive, incubate, and mature their business plans through access to digital incubation platforms.
The 'Green Youth Movement' will provide small grants to Pakistani youth to come up with economic innovative solutions to tackle climate challenges. The plan envisions the planting of 10 billion trees.
The 'Internship Programme' will be for undergraduate and postgraduate students to facilitate them in participating in the private sector.
The 'Jawan Markaz', a one-stop solution for youth-related issues at the grass-roots level, will not only provide access to sports and other youth engagement activities but also provide them with career counseling, mentoring and access to a host of digital services.
The prime minister congratulated his special assistant on youth affairs, Usman Dar, for launching the scheme.
Briefing the media about the plan earlier in the day, the special assistant said the programme was focused on ensuring employment opportunities to the youth.
"I want to assure you all that this programme will bring out the best in youth, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has fulfilled its promise of empowering them," Dar said in his address.
"No amount of people's tax is incurred on the programme as it is supported by UN Development Programme," he added.
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