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Business

March 21, 2017

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Banks advised to prepare three-year plan for strengthening presence in Balochistan

Banks advised to prepare three-year plan for strengthening presence in Balochistan

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday advised banks to prepare at least a three-year plan to strengthen their presence in Balochistan by taking concrete steps to increase financing under the concessional schemes and to promote businesses in the province, a statement said.

All banks are needed to take measures to increase the number of branchless banking agents, branchless banking accounts and ATMs in the province; open branches in underserved districts of the province, said Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, governor of the central bank, during a meeting with the heads of commercial banks in Quetta.

He also asked the banks to increase financing, particularly in the concessional finance schemes of the SBP and the government, and, maintain continued focus on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism risks.

“The aforementioned steps have been identified to increase the footprint of the banking industry in the province of Balochistan for achieving the SBP’s strategic goal (2020) of enhancing the financial inclusion in country,” Wathra added.

He sensitised the chief executive officers (CEOs), of the banks on continued improvement in security situation in Balochistan, realisation of projects under theChina-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), development of Gwadar Port and untapped natural resources, which together offer tremendous opportunities for growth and employment.

The SBP’s governor, in continuation of his earlier engagements with the banking industry and different chambers of commerce and industry, invited all leading bank CEOs for a meeting in Quetta.

These engagements are aimed at understanding, at firsthand, issues being faced by the industries of specific areas; assessing the efficiency of intermediary function performed by the banks, and addressing the limitations encountered by the banks in effectively performing their intermediary function.

“The State Bank of Pakistan is cognizant of the fact that the private sector lending is picking up, on account of, improved security situation and better availability of energy,” Wathra said. “However, a lot needs to be done, particularly, in areas, which have remained marginalised, to ensure that the economic growth is inclusive and its benefits are shared by all stakeholders.”

Later, the SBP governor also met the president, vice presidents, other office-bearers and members of the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI). During the meeting, the governor informed business community about the SBP’s efforts to promote microfinance, agri-credit and SME financing in Balochistan.

“Earlier this morning, we have gathered presidents / CEOs of all banks in Quetta to express our resolve to facilitate Balochistan’s business community. I have urged them to take measures to increase financing to priority sectors in the province,” Wathra said.

The governor said in the light of agriculture credit advisory committee’s recommendations, specific targets are being allocated to the banks for underserved / underdeveloped areas. Likewise, given the importance of the SMEs in the country, particularly in Balochistan, the central bank would set province-wise SME financing targets from the current year, he added.

Wathra expressed the hope that this would spur growth in the province. The governor also underscored the importance of national financial inclusion strategy for deepening of financial inclusion as the SBP’s key strategic vision.

“Improved law and order condition coupled with the CPEC in place, development of Gwadar Port and greater trade with neighbouring countries will bring real prosperity to Balochistan and create new business opportunities and job creation,” he said.

The Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry would handhold local businesses, making them bankable so that they as exporters make best use of the SBP’s export finance schemes, he added.

Urging the Quetta Chamber to play its due role in creating awareness about Islamic banking, the SBP governor assured the chamber representatives of the support in various activities for dissemination of various incentive schemes, in particular and, other schemes, in general.

 

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