His Excellency President Islamic Republic of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi visited State Bank of Pakistan today for a Roundtable Discussion on Financial Inclusion of Differently Abled Persons hosted by Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Reza Baqir. Senior officials of SBP, Presidents and CEOs of Banks and representatives of Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP) also participated in this roundtable discussion.
Governor SBP, Dr. Reza Baqir welcomed the President and gave a detailed presentation on the two types of interventions by SBP for the differently-abled persons. These include initiatives taken by SBP to facilitate the differently-abled persons for accessing banking premises and services and, providing access to finance through various SBP refinance schemes. He informed the President about 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.
For people faced with challenges related to upper and lower limb, Governor shared with the President that various steps have been taken to facilitate them 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 SBP to facilitate persons with visual impairment, Governor SBP informed the President about the special features of currency notes such as size, lines & dots; installation of Talking ATMs; provision of ATM/Debit and internet banking facilities; and countrywide awareness sessions on features of currency notes.
With respect to the second type of SBP interventions, Dr. Baqir apprised the President about two credit schemes supported by SBP for the financial inclusion of differently-abled persons. The first is the Small Enterprise Financing and Credit Guarantee Scheme, which is available to differently-abled persons holding CNIC with a special logo/symbol for setting up new business enterprises or for expansion of existing ones at a subsidized financing rate of 5% per annum for the tenor of 5 years including grace period of up to 6 months.
The second SBP scheme is Financing Facility of Low Cost Housing for Special Segments including differently abled persons that provides subsidized loans to widows, children of Shaheed, transgender, special persons and persons in the areas severely affected by war against terrorism. Under the scheme, special segments can avail subsidized financing at 5% per annum, for the tenor of 12.5 years including grace period of up to 6 months. Information about these schemes is available SBP website (http://www.sbp.org.pk/Incen-others/sme-7.asp and http://www.sbp.org.pk/Incen-others/Low.asp).
Elaborating the way forward, the Governor said that SBP would undertake annual accessibility audit under the already issued guidelines for facilitation of differently-abled persons to enhance the compliance on our instructions. He went on to add that SBP will issue circular to banks to ensure accessibility facilities for differently-abled persons at all-new branch premises and ATM cabins. SBP will also issue circular to banks to make available forms/terms & condition document in braille for basic banking services.
The Governor said that SBP would set credit targets for banks under relevant SBP’s refinance schemes for differently-abled persons by 31 March 2020. SBP’s financial literacy program will contain special modules for differently-abled persons. He added that banks are encouraged to provide access to internet banking, debit and credit cards to visually impaired literate persons.
The Honorable President, Mr. Arif Alvi, appreciated the initiatives taken by SBP for the differently-abled persons and the way forward suggested by the Governor SBP to progress further in this regard. He urged the banking sector to come up with some innovative workable ideas and plans to economically empower this particular segment of society, particularly the women among them. Further, he urged the banks to play their role in training and capacity building, apart from making efforts in the provision of financial services and access to finance for differently-abled persons.
In the end, the Governor thanked the Honorable President for his visit of SBP and his keen interest for facilitating the differently-abled persons through banking services and assured him that SBP will continue to work in this regard along with banking sector.
The Right-Wing Politics in United States & The Capitol Hill Mayhem
The radicalized right-wing politics during the Trump Administration is responsible for creating severe unrest in the US, and subsequently, in the global community. There is a dire need to change the political structure in the US to safeguard the true spirit of democracy.
The US witnessed one of the tumultuous transitions of power as the republicans shook the very roots of a model democracy in the US after the Capitol Hill mayhem.
Trump administration during the four-year Presidential Term has been worst on all fronts -be it Internal Policy, Health Policy, unemployment, Governance, Foreign Policy, security and Trade policy.
Trump, being afraid of defeat resorted to inciting voters, supporters and workers to attack Capitol Hill, and his racial tirade and overtures drowned him in last year’s most trumpeted Presidential Elections when the country appeared divided between the rightist and leftists.
Trump and his attack on democracy
The elections witnessed the bloodshed, torture, violence and sheer violation of legislative laws that warranted immediate legal action. From his election to the Presidential slot, Trump behaved like an amateur.
He ran the political affairs as a personal business rather than a statesman. He, being an actor, took the job as a mere role but the presidency demands prudence and sensible decisions to avoid any worst repercussions.
The leftists or change agents wanted a people-friendly government where the rights of people should be protected regardless of their political affiliation or association, caste, colour, creed, religion, ethnicity.
For the years, US democracy has been a model for many developing countries owing to its non-radicalized and people-friendly Governments.
All the democratic forces were stunned over the unfortunate incident of Capitol Hill mayhem and were shocked that even developed nations like America can be enthralled, enticed and incited to the level that will shake the very roots of Democracy i.e Capitol Hill.
The world responded with regrets that it was unfortunate that Trumpism radicalized supporters to the extent that they were instigated and incited to influence the Presidential Elections results so that Biden’s Victory may not be validated.
America in disgrace
The world might have moved to tears when Trump supporters and workers ransacked Capitol Hill and brought disgrace for America around the world.
All experts, analysts and pro-democracy leaders condemned such act since it was against the norms of civilized nations of the world.
All the mayhem that stormed the US was orchestrated and masterminded by a Business Tycoon, Actor turned Politician Donald Trump who already lost his credibility for his election to the office of President since he was facing rigging and horse-trading charges in his first term that led to his impeachment Trial but luckily he was set free twice from impeachment during his presidency.
Furthermore, his complete failure to tackle the issue of pandemic also contributed to his humiliating defeat since he ridiculed the pandemic by terming it China Virus owing to trade war with China.
Later, when the pandemic went out of control, he took initiative but it was too late to restrict the covid-19 infections since the US had the highest ratio of infections in the world.
Diplomatic relations ruined by Trumpism
Trump escalated the situation with Iran by killing General Qassem Suleimani in Iraq. Later, Iran attacked American Military bases in Iraq but there were no causalities reported for the incident. Iran also shot down a passenger plane by mistake and all passengers were killed.
Trump’s diplomatic relations with China worsened due to the Trade war. American relations with North Korea did not improve though both Trump and KIM met in Singapore to reach a possible peace agreement.
His amnesty or pardon for his friends also came under heavy criticism since he was afraid that they might be prosecuted as his term ended.
His blunders contributed a lot to his worst defeat though, being stubborn did not accept defeat but later, Supreme Court rejected his claims of any rigging in elections.
Republicans being a right-wing party radicalized the political workers and community to that extent that people violated law without any fear as they enjoyed the support from the white house.
The right-wing politics of Donald trump sowed the seeds of hatred and hostility that will have serious repercussions in the long run as long as the Trumpism pandemic exists among the people.
His failure to implement a deal of the century plan in the Middle East that was aimed merely on supporting Israel by giving a greater share of settlements. The deal came to a logical end as it was heavily criticized and Palestinians called it to suicide if accepted.
Despite signing the deal with the Afghan Taliban with the help of Pakistan to end 20 years longest war on terror and paving the way for US troops’ withdrawal, the law and order situation has not improved so far as the peace dialogue between the Afghan Taliban and Government yet to take place.
Biden as a saviour
Right-wing politicians led by Trumps have serious implications that will ultimately create problems for Biden to cope with during his presidency.
Biden has to overhaul the whole system to restore the Trust and reputation in the world and strengthen the US through unity by abolishing the discriminatory approach.
The Selection of an Afro-American lady as Vice President has already laid the foundation to put the country on right track and building the trust of all the communities whether voted for him or not as he called himself the president of all Americans rather than of those who voted and supported him during his victory speech.
The Vote is the great tool of people to bring in the choice of leadership as it is the constitutional right of every American and can be exercised on free will without any pressure
The Afro-American community still recalls the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd by Police, supported Joe Biden after he chose Kamala Harris as Vice President candidate.
On the other hand, though Trump was given clean chit in impeachment since he was charged with inciting the supporters to attack Capitol Hill that will be marked as a black day in American history, yet he has sown the seeds of intolerance, political victimization and radicalizing the peaceful Americans.
This aspect of populist or right-wing politics always plagues the peaceful and vibrant societies in a developed nation like the US, UK, France and Germany.
Trump promoted racism through his flowery speech that incited and enthralled mob violence to exert pressure through street power as practised in Asian states such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Japan.
How will Biden make America ‘great’ again?
Political analysts term Trump as an existential threat for Biden as he still enjoys the second largest votes in key states and may create problems especially the legislation for key issues.
Biden will have to fix diplomatic relations with all nations of the world especially Tehran and Beijing as Former President Donald Trump escalated the diplomatic relations with these countries with his insensible and aggressive attitude.
He will have to take immediate steps to clear the mess that was stalled by Trump’s radicalized and extremist approach to right-wing Politics whose price is being paid by citizens through isolation and hatred.
Biden and Kamala Harris will have to chalk out such policies that deal with communities with equality and justice and especially deal with the pandemic situation through vaccination drive to minimize the covid-19 infections. The causalities have surpassed thousands whereas long lockdowns have created unemployment and an economic crisis impacting many industries.
They need to sit with health experts and Economists to get the country out of the crisis. It will be better to take help from the nations that managed to defeat this pandemic with SOPs and measures.
Beyond ego, the US may seek help from Russia, China, Singapore and the UK to win against the pandemic situation, though the ratio of the infections dropped worldwide as the cold winter departs.
Joe Biden will have to support Kashmiris against the unilateral move of India as he had promised in the election campaign.
He should play his role for the Middle East peace plan of the two-state solution so that Palestinians may have a state as per their wishes and the map they have in mind.
It was the sensible decision from him that troops’ withdrawal option was postponed, given the critical situation in Afghanistan. Rather, he should not jeopardize or sabotage the peace deal with the Taliban.
Biden should engage person like Zalmay Khalilzad to strengthen the dialogue process between the Afghan Taliban and other stakeholders including the existing Government of Ashraf Ghani so that peace could be restored as it will benefit all the countries and play a pivotal role in regional stability and prosperity.
The pandemic has united the world as human conscience has roused again.
Republicans and Democrats
Finally, Democrats have always saved America and promoted justice, equality and opened doors for the world for immigration but Trump wreaked havoc with all the social norms and promoted intolerance, racism and inequality that shook the very roots of the country and gave birth to happenings of Capitol Hill and distrust on the electoral system.
Biden Administration is expected and mandated by the masses to clear that mess and pave the way for his second term if he succeeds to bring change to the country.
Right-wing politics has its pros and cons but the version introduced by Republicans radicalized the whole system and divided the country even in times of emergency.
Populist leaders all around the world have impacted various governments, especially in the Asian States as they are elected on popular vote.
The version introduced by Trump may give birth to the dissent voices as left-wing whose critique may be beyond rectification whereas the ethnic divide, will promote separatism as happened in the UK, Spain, Russia and the Subcontinent when people’s rights were compromised and the freedom of expression was annulled.
The US cannot afford further isolation and division of communities on the basis of ethnicity, colour or radical thoughts since it has already paid the price during the Trump regime.
The Development of microfinance industry depends upon the resilience and risk management: SECP Chairman Amir Khan
Islamabad : SECP Chairman, Aamir Khan emphasized that in these challenging times the development of microfinance industry depends upon the resilience and risk management, achieved through quintessential pillars of liquidity-tapped through private capital and technology embracement. Khan was addressing the Non-Bank Microfinance Companies Stakeholders Forum organized by SECP to devise a way forward and collaborate strategic response to cope the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns.
The SECP Chairman Amir Khan, along with Commissioner Specialized Companies Division, Farrukh Sabzwari chaired the session. Representatives of Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company Limited (PMIC), Karandaaz Pakistan and multilateral donor agencies including the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Department for International Development (DFID) attended the session.
The Chairman SECP advised NBMFCs to go far product diversification to insurance solutions and saving products and build capacity of their workforce to attain business development and operational efficiency. He endorsed formation of a working group consisting of nominees from SECP, PMN, PMIC and NBMFCs to further analyze the situation. The working group will also take up the matters with relevant forums including ministry of finance, SBP and multilateral donor agencies for possible solutions.
Khan expressed SECP’s firm commitment to providing all possible support to industry not only during the current pandemic times but also in developing the industry on a strong footing. SECP Commissioner, Sabzwari highlighted the measures taken by SECP to provide relief and flexibility to the NBMFCs and their wholesale lender in managing funding requirements. He also talked about SECP’s advice to NBMFCs to defer and reschedule borrower loans.
Participants acknowledged SECP’s timely intervention to provide regulatory relief to NBMFCs in managing their credit lines and funding requirements. However, industry representatives expressed their concerns on potential defaults by borrower and liquidity crunch that may lead to capital crisis in the industry.
They raised the need of new money injection into the industry through collaborative efforts of microfinance regulators and the government. Representatives of international donor agencies attending the Forum expressed their resolve to extend fullest possible support to Pakistan’s microfinance sector.
Gov’t releases Rs 533.33 billion for various development projects so far
Islamabad: The federal government has so far authorized release of Rs 533.33 billion for various ongoing and new social sector uplift projects under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20, as against the total allocation of Rs 701 billion.
Under its development programme, the government has released an amount of Rs 230.3 billion for federal ministries, Rs 175.65 billion for corporations and Rs 43.46 billion for special areas, according to a latest data released by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform.
Out of these allocations, the government released Rs 38.5 billion for security enhancement in the country for which the government had allocated Rs 53 billion during the year 2019-20.
An amount of Rs 81.37 billion has also been released for the blocks managed by finance division under the government’s 10 years development programme.
Similarly, for Higher Education Commission, the government released an amount of Rs 27.07 billion out of its total allocation of Rs 29 billion while Rs 301.47 million were released for Pakistan Nuclear Energy Authority for which the government had allocated Rs 301.48 million in the development budget.
For National Highway Authority, the government released Rs154.94 billion. Under annual development agenda, the government also released Rs 10.7 billion for Railways Division out of total allocation of Rs16 billion, Rs 7.7 billion for Interior Division, and Rs 8.38 billion for National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination Division.
Revenue Division received Rs 4.3 billion whereas the Cabinet Division also received Rs 30.18 billion for which an amount of Rs 39.986 billion has been allocated for the year 2019-20.
The government also released Rs 26.9 billion for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) block and other projects out of its allocations of Rs 27.26 billion and Rs 16.54 billion for Gilgit Baltistan (Block and other projects).
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