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Govt to launch new Rozgar scheme next month

September 28, 2008

KARACHI, Sept 27: The President’s Rozgar Scheme launched by Musharraf-Shaukat government under the auspices of public sector National Bank of Pakistan in 2006-07 is being given a new name, People’s Rozgar Scheme, and is being re-launched by the middle of next month with much fanfare and media glare.

“From next month, just after Eid, the elected Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government is all set to launch a vigorous media campaign on populist social welfare projects, like People’s Rozgar Scheme, Benazir Income Support Programme, land allocation for landless and Benazir Youth Support Programme,’’ a well connected businessmen disclosed who revealed that the government has taken difficult and unpalatable decisions like withdrawing subsidy on oil and gas in the last few months and in return has earned harsh public criticism.

“The government now wants to come with a pro-poor face,’’ he said.

“New products will be offered to the unemployed youth in addition to increase in loan limits of President’s Rozgar Scheme products,’’ a sources in government disclosed.

He said four or five new products are being offered; of which most important is diagnostic devices to the young general medical practicing practitioners.

The young doctors are being offered loans up to Rs 150,000 to acquire five portable kits to measure cholesterol level, sugar level, blood pressure, urine analyser and ECG machine to help them in their diagnosis of patients.

The suppliers of these products are said to have been selected after a strict scrutiny from a number of applicants who responded to the NBP bid given in newspapers and media.

The NBP wants to launch this product at restricted level initially but will expand it to national level after assessing the response.

“It will not only help augment income of young family medical practitioners, but will also help patients in offering glucose and cholesterol measurement and other basic medical tests at very nominal costs,’’ the source said.

The scheme will now offer loans from Rs 5,000 to Rs 700,000 per applicant.

The NBP included goods trucks, goods light carriers, installation of telephones for public calls under the Rozgar scheme.

“About 8,000 Chinese-made gas-run rickshaws were given to unemployed people all over the country in the last more than 18 months’’, disclosed the source. Of these about 2,000 were found to be below standard quality. But a large number of borrowers under the scheme are said to be taking undue advantage from the reports and complaining of defective vehicles even though these were fine.

The government is understood to have taken up the issue of supply of defective vehicles said to be worth about Rs400 million with the Chinese authorities.

The company is reported to have agreed to change defective rickshaws with the operative vehicles.

Under the rozgar scheme, all educated from matriculation and onward are eligible to apply for loan with two guarantors.

The NBP claims to have a well organised applications scrutiny system and monitoring arrangement. The bank has not so far reported on recovery of the loans given out so far.

Unfortunately, Pakistan does not enjoy a good reputation when it comes to bank-based employment generation schemes whether it was late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s self- employment scheme in which her secretary Ms Nahid Khan created a role for People’s Youth in sanctioning of loans, or it was Nawaz Sharif’s yellow cab scheme which too caused squandering of billions of rupees.

About a billion dollars worth of duty-free vehicles of all makes and models were imported and given on 10 per cent down payment. Several hundred imported vehicles were grabbed by the military and civil officers. More than 1,000 vehicles crossed borders at Torkham and Chaman into Afghanistan. Banks offered about Rs17 billion loans. There is no report how much was recovered.