LAHORE:THE Punjab government is going to launch a scheme of soft loans for the educated unemployed youth with a one billion rupees revolving fund.
The revolving fund amount will be disbursed to all the districts of the province on poverty basis while the provincial board of statistics data will be used for the purpose. Under the scheme, up to Rs 50,000 interest-free loans will be given to youths to start their own business and it would be repayable in one to five years easy installments.
The steering committee on the scheme is headed by MNA Pervaiz Malik and Khawaja Saad Rafique is its member. The committee has sent its recommendations to the chief minister for final approval. The scheme will be launched shortly after the chief minister s approval. Sources said the chief minister had assigned the task to the steering committee to launch the scheme in the ongoing financial year, 2011-12, at most in the second quarter of the financial year.
Interestingly, the allocation of funds was made in the last financial year, 2010-11, Annual Development Plan (ADP) and the Punjab Small Industry Corporation (PSIC) was assigned the task to evolve and run the scheme. However, the PSIC Board of Directors rejected the scheme with objection that it was not workable.
However, the chief minister constituted the steering committee to launch the scheme.
Sources linked with the scheme disclosed to The News that NGO sector was also invited to participate in this process and three NGOs submitted their bids as well. It was decided to keep the scheme transparent with minimum involvement of government hierarchy so loans would be given and recovered by the selected NGOs on behalf of the government while the Punjab government will pay the operational expenditures to the NGOs other than processing charging and verification fee of the applicants.
The steering committee in a meeting held on Thursday, August 18, 2011, finalised its recommendations and approved the draft of the scheme.
Top bureaucracy, including the chief secretary, industry secretary and other Punjab government officials concerned are also members of the steering committee. The summary of recommendations has been sent to the chief minister. When contacted, MNA Pervaiz Malik, the steering committee chairman, confirmed that the committee had approved the recommendations for the scheme and had sent them to the chief minister for final approval. He said tenders were advertised for NGO sector to run the scheme and three NGOs had submitted their bids.
Technical evaluation of the bids is underway, he said. He said that purpose of involving the NGO sector was to keep the scheme transparent. He said the scheme would be launched in at least 20 districts of the province while the neglected districts would be prioritised. He said technical education provider institutions such as the TEVTA, NEVTAC, PVTC and others would also be involved in the scheme to make the youth enable to start their own businesses. He said initially Rs 1 billion was allocated under the scheme which would be increased in the coming years.
To a question that the PSIC board of directors had rejected the scheme but the steering committee approved it, he said the PSIC had some reservations to launch the scheme across the Punjab as they lacked the capacity to handle such a huge scheme so it was rejected by the PSIC boardThe news.