ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved Rs100 billion Wazir-i-Azam Kamyab Naujawan Programme (WAKNP) under which the youth will be given soft loans up to Rs5 million for establishing their own business.
“Soft loan of Rs100,000 to Rs500,000 will be given at six per cent interest rate and Rs50,000 equity, while loans of Rs500,000 to Rs5,000,000 will be provided at eight per cent markup with 20 per cent equity,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan while addressing a press conference following the cabinet meeting.
She said the youth aged between 18 and 35 years were 65 per cent of the population and in order to empower them, the cabinet had decided to launch “Kamyab Naujawan Programme”. This would help engage young people in economic and trade activities and create job opportunities, she explained. “The prime minister believes that the youth is the backbone of the country, as they are 65pc of the country’s total population,” the special assistant said, adding that the youth programme would bring about an economic revolution.
25pc of soft loans to be given to young women enabling them to run their own business, says Firdous
“The programme will provide job opportunity to the young people and will boost economic activities in the country,” she reiterated.
Ms Awan said women, who were 52 per cent of the population, would be direct beneficiary of the programme, with 25pc of total loans to be given to the young females for establishing their own small businesses.
The WAKNP is said to be an ambitious programme aimed at providing soft loans, education, professional skills to the youth of the country and thus creating job opportunities for them. Similar youth support programmes had also been launched in the past, but they could not bear fruit due to lack of an effective and comprehensive strategy. Under the WAKNP, a number of schemes will be introduced to provide job opportunity, education and professional skills to the youth.
A strategic youth development roadmap (national youth development framework) has been devised and a national youth council has been established in the country.
For the first time in the country’s history that PM’s Youth-Plus Portal had been established to get feedback and suggestions from the youth for development and progress of the country. A National Youth Development Index will also be formed under the programme.
The meeting was told that more than 40 different sectors had been spotted in which the youth would benefit with the collaboration of provincial governments.
Under the programme, several schemes are being launched for the youth, including youth economic development scheme, PM’s green youth movement, PM start-up Pakistan, internship programme, Hunarmand programme and Kamyab Naujawan employment exchange programme.
She said a youth database would be established in the light of information and surveys conducted by educational institutions and universities for the establishment of PM’s Employment Exchange Platform. She added that this platform would be linked with all government departments so that young people could be employed on vacant posts.
The cabinet also approved education policy under which the Centre would facilitate and support education reforms if introduced by the provinces.
Ms Awan said Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood briefed the cabinet about the plan to increase literacy rate and provide vocational training and skills to students.
She said the minister would brief the media about the education policy, which was focused on the provision of quality education, uniform curriculum and reforms. Spread of education would help in tackling challenges facing the country, she remarked.
She said the PM had tasked the Higher Education Commission (HEC) with bringing maximum number of chapters of foreign universities with high international standards to Pakistan.
Mr Khan also directed the HEC that scholarship opportunities be made available for students in universities abroad as were availed by students of India and other countries, she added.
About the public concern over the devaluation of rupee against dollar, the special assistant said Adviser to the PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh would brief the media on Saturday about a roadmap to take the economy forward and also shed light on the wrong decisions of the previous government that led to the economic mess. “He will share the government’s long-term economic roadmap with the nation,” she added.
She said the cabinet resolved to bring the economy out of crisis with the strength of the people.
She said the cabinet approved all the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), including ratification of grants to K-Electric to keep Karachi free of load-shedding during Ramazan.
Ms Awan said the nation would soon reap fruit of the bold decisions being taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Ms Awan said PM Khan had issued directives to the PTI members of the national and provincial assemblies to remain in touch with the people of their constituencies, visit Ramazan bazaars and keep check on prices.
She said the prime minister was assured in the cabinet meeting that supply of 19 essential items would be ensured through 42,000 utility stores across the country.
On the issue of devaluation of the rupee against the dollar, Ms Awan said that people should come forward, and help the government in curtailing imports as was done by the people of Turkey when Turkish lira lost half of its value against the US dollar.
The special assistant said the State Bank was an autonomous financial regulator and the monetary policy announced by it gave all the details about its position on the value of the dollar.
Giving details of other decisions of the cabinet, she said the cabinet approved nomination of Dr Asad Zaman and Dr Hamid Mukhtar as external members of monetary policy committee. The cabinet approved to notify Pakistan Credit Guarantee Company Limited as development financial institution.
‘Anti-govt drive to fail’
She dismissed the call of protest by the opposition, saying that opposition parties would fail to launch a drive against the government.
She said the leadership of several political parties were only worried about their children and their own future, while Mr Khan was working for the bright future of the young generation of the country.
In reply to a question about health of Nawaz Sharif, Ms Awan said his disease was mysterious as he felt fine when he was out of jail in the luxury of his home, but got sick as soon as he returned to prison.
Referring to the brutal murder of a girl in Islamabad, she said the interior minister had briefed the cabinet about the incident. The first information report (FIR) of the incident had been registered and a Station House Officer (SHO) was suspended, she said, claiming that the PM had zero tolerance for such horrible incidents. She also said that the culprits would be brought to justice through speedy court trial.
Local govt board
The cabinet also approved to set up a local government board comprising MNA Asad Umar, Deputy Interior Secretary, Chief Commissioner of Islamabad, Deputy Commissioner, Chief Officer Metropolitan Corporation. Earlier, all the powers were vested in the mayor of Islamabad.
In the meeting, District and Sessions Judge Hafisa Usman was approved as Banking Judge-II, Karachi. The vice chancellor for Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad, was finalised at the meeting.
She said PM Khan and cabinet members also expressed deep grief and sorrow over the demise of federal Minister for Narcotics Control Ali Mohammad Khan Mahar.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2019