LAHORE: The Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), the largest public sector financial institution lending agriculture credit, opened three branches in the constituency of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the last few days in the office.
The branches were opened at Bewal, Dhok Amb and Doltala and inaugurated by former prime minister’s brothers, officials of the bank who requested anonymity told Dawn on Monday.
The new branches have been opened in spite of the fact that the existing ZTBL branch in Gujjar Khan was making losses. “Under the rules, you cannot open another branch in an area where the existing branch is suffering losses,” an official said.
He said the appointment of the staff in the new braches was made on the recommendations of the former prime minister or his relatives.
The bank has a network of 357 branches across the country to cater to the needs of the farmers for bank credit.
The official alleged that the establishment of the branches in the constituency amounted to “pre-poll” rigging.
“Nobody would have objected to opening so many branches in Raja Pervez’s constituency if it made any business sense. With the existing branch making losses, there is no chance for the new ones to be viable,” said another official.
The bank officials claimed that the former prime minister had returned the “favour” done by ZTBL President Ehsanul Haq to him by “prematurely” reconstituting the bank’s board of directors on the last day of his government, a decision overturned by the Islamabad High Court on Monday.
“The decision to open new branches to please a politician speaks volumes about the role of political interference in the day-to-day running of the state owned enterprises and their current state of affairs,” commented a senior bank executive.