The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) said on Tuesday that it is ready to finance the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project if the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) directs it to do so.
“The IP [gas pipeline] is a big project: a consortium of banks can finance it, and we can become a part of such a consortium if the SBP directs us,” NBP Senior Vice President and Divisional Head of Consumer and Retail Banking Adnan Adil Hussain said while addressing a press conference here. He said the NBP had also been financing other energy-related projects like the Neelum Jhelum hydropower project.
Shedding light on other aspects of NBP’s business, he informed the gathering that the bank had been providing free of cost services to pensioners. “The NBP has disbursed more than Rs210 billion, while more than 1.6 million government employees have benefited from the advance salary personal loan facility launched in 2003,” he said. He added that the bank was enhancing the loan facility of the advance salary service to a maximum of one million rupees to the income bracket that can afford it.
He also said that the bank was handling salaries and government businesses along with pensions and personal loans, and that no other bank could rival the NBP in doing so. “Yet, the NBP is competing other commercial banks in their domain as well,” Adnan added.
He said that agriculture was another area where the NBP demonstrated its commitment and resolve to national interests. “The NBP leads its counterparts by a huge margin, and reaches out to more than 250,000 farmers in every nook and corner of the country,” he said; adding that the bank stands only second in the provision of agricultural credit needs after the Zarai Taraqiati Bank. “Out of the agricultural sector’s financing needs of Rs750 billion, NBP is catering to around 19%.”
He added that the NBP was equally active in catering to the housing finance sector through its ‘Saibaan’ product. However, in 2008-09, against the global backdrop of betting on subprime mortgages, the economic recession, interest rate hikes and the emergence of loan defaults, the bank was prompted to adopt a cautious policy and lend selectively. This policy remained in force till 2010.
The NBP remains an active player in commercial and small and medium enterprise (SME) lending. In the domestic SME sector, its financing share is around 10%.
“Yet, NBP is also the largest bank handling the pledge of stocks in seasonal finance; catering to needs of cotton, rice and wheat traders and millers, which requires less collaterals and more stocks for the industry to grow [sic],” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2012.
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