KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan Governor Reza Baqir gave a detailed briefing on measures taken by the central bank for differently-abled persons.
During a roundtable discussion on 'Financial Inclusion of Differently Abled Persons', the governor apprised President Arif Alvi of the regulatory instructions for the banks by SBP and its own initiatives to address the problems faced by different categories of differently abled persons and their progress since 2018.
Baqir said that various steps have been taken to facilitate people facing challenges related to upper and lower limb, including providing preferential treatment/out of queue assistance; construction of ramps at the entrance of existing branches and ATM cabins to allow easy access to special persons and wheelchair users; relaxation in the requirement of biometric verification for account opening; and facilitation desks for special persons at SBP main building and its offices countrywide.
Regarding steps taken by the SBP to facilitate persons with visual impairment, the governor informed the president about the special features of currency notes and countrywide awareness sessions on features of currency notes.
Baqir also told the president about two credit schemes supported by the central bank for the financial inclusion of differently-abled persons. The first scheme is the Small Enterprise Financing and Credit Guarantee Scheme for setting up new business enterprises or for expansion of existing ones at a subsidised financing rate of 5% per annum for the tenor of five years, including grace period of up to six months.
The second SBP scheme is Financing Facility of Low Cost Housing for Special Segments that provides subsidised loans to widows, children of martyrs, transgender, special persons and persons in the areas severely affected by war against terrorism. Under the scheme, special segments can avail subsidised financing at 5% per annum, for the tenor of 12.5 years including grace period of up to six months.
Appreciating the initiatives, Alvi urged the banking sector to come up with innovative workable ideas and plans to economically empower this particular segment of society, particularly the women among them. Furthermore, he also urged the banks to play their role in training and capacity building, apart from making efforts in provision of financial services and access to finance for differently-abled persons.