Soft loans for educated youth

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday launched a self-employment micro-credit scheme for the province`s educated but jobless youth.Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti attended the ceremony wherein the provincial industries department and the Bank of Khyber signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which the BoK would disburse the loans.Named after the Kudai Khidmatgar Movement leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the Bacha Khan Khapal Rozgar Scheme is the first micro-credit scheme initiated by any provincial government in the country.Under the scheme, unemployed educated youth, including women and the disabled, would be given soft loans of Rs20,000 to Rs100,000 for starting a business at local level. The government has allocated one billion rupees for the scheme which will be implemented by the BoK.Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that poor service delivery, unemployment, poverty and lack of justice were the major factors behind the rise of extremism and militancy. These grave problems cannot be eliminated by use of force alone, he stressed.Mr Hoti said that unemployment was a big challenge and that was why the government was trying to create an environment where people could earn livelihood.He assured the gathering that no political interference would be allowed in execution of this scheme so that only deserving people could avail of this opportunity. “The need-based scheme has to be free of interference from the chief minister, ministers and MPAs,” he said.Appreciating the BoK`s performance during the last two years, the chief minister also extended service contract of its managing director Bilal Mustafa for two more years. Mr Mustafa`s current contract is going to expire on March 8.Ahmad Hussain Shah, provincial industries minister, said that the scheme was a pilot project and with the passage time donor agencies and overseas workers would also be involved to contribute to this scheme.

Mr Mustafa told the gathering that application forms for the loan scheme would be available by Feb 15. He said that 30 per cent of the loan would go to women and two per cent to the disabled.He said that Rs16 billion of Rs28 billion disbursed by the BoK during the last five years had been given to entrepreneurs of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He lamented that all the commercial banks had declared Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a `no go area`, as they were boosting deposits from here, but did not lend money to the people. He said the BoK branches had been increased from 29 to 54 and 20 more branches would opened by end of this year.He said that the BoK was also opening booths in far-flung areas to facilitate foreign remittances, in line with the State Bank policy. He said that the country received Rs10 billion annually as home remittances through legal channels, of which 25 to 30 per cent belonged to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Dawn