The Sindh government has decided to launch a scheme to give interest-free loans to people under its pro-poor economic revival package.
The decision to the scheme, titled ‘Chief Minister Self-Employment Scheme’, was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday.
The meeting discussed the Covid-19 situation at length, with relevant officials highlighting that the pandemic had led to scores of people losing their jobs.
Following the discussion, the CM stated, “This is the time to introduce the pro-poor economic package, under which interest-free small loans could be offered to people so that they may set up small businesses or boost their already established enterprises.”
The CM said he could spare Rs2 billion during the current fiscal year for the purpose to start with.
Moreover, the CM pointed that a mechanism for determining who was entitled to get loans under the scheme, a method for disbursing the loans and a mode of recovery needed to be developed for the scheme.
He also constituted a committee headed by Planning and Development Board chairperson Muhammad Waseem to work out the details of the programme. The committee includes the finance and law secretaries as members.
The example of non-governmental organisation (NGO) Akhuwat Islamic Microfinance (AIM), which is giving interest-free loans to the poor to set up small businesses, was given to the meeting as a model for the initiative.
According to details shared with the meeting, AIM’s recovery rate has been 100 per cent.
A representative of the NGO briefed cabinet members in detail on the matter.
The CM tasked the committee head by Waseem to meet the NGO’s representatives, develop a model for the scheme and present it at the next cabinet meeting, which would be scheduled before Ramazan.
Besides, Sindh local government secretary Najam Shah told the cabinet that a billboard and hoarding policy had been devised in light of Supreme Court orders.
Standard sizes and other restrictions for billboards have been defined in the policy, he said.
As per the policy, a billboard with a depth of 15 feet (ft) is to measure 45ft in width and 31ft in height. Similarly, billboards having a depth of 10ft should be 20ft wide and 21ft tall. Billboards measuring 8ft in depth should have equal height and width of 12ft.
The policy also covers the fee structure for advertisements, placement of advertisements, modes of payments and other details.
While the cabinet approved the policy, a committee, led by Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, was constituted to polish it further.
The cabinet was told that the ambassador of Pakistan in China had informed the Sindh government that the provincial government of Hubei in China wished to establish a sister-province relationship between Sindh and Hubei and a sister-city relationship between Karachi and Wuhan.
The Wuhan administration has completed the procedure to name a prominent square on the riverbank of Yangtze as Pakistan-China Friendship Square. The Karachi administration would also undertake procedures to name a prominent public square or road on similar pattern as a special gesture of friendship on reciprocal basis, the meeting was told.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2021.
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