NA body expresses dissatisfaction over State Bank’s lackluster response

ISLAMABAD-The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Wednesday expressed its dissatisfaction regarding the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) lackluster response to the distribution of $3 billion loans to 620 borrowers during the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s tenure.
The meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue was held in the Parliament House, Islamabad under the chairmanship of Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, MNA. At the outset, the chairman and members of the Committee commended the legislative progress made by the Sub-Committee appointed under the convenership of Ch Muhammad Barjees Tahir, MNA.
The Committee expressed its dissatisfaction regarding the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) lackluster response to the allocation of a $3 billion loan facility during the PTI tenure. The Committee’s discontent stems from the loan facility having been extended to 620 individuals at significantly low markup rates, thereby passing on the financial burden, in the form of an additional 15 thousand crores as interest, onto the average Pakistani taxpayer. The Committee demands a detailed explanation from the SBP concerning the approval procedure and criteria for the issuance of these concessionary loan schemes. The Committee is also demanding insight into potential irregularities; such as loans being diverted to real estate investment instead of the intended industrial machinery installation for export enhancement. 
The Committee seeks an answer to whether loaned money was possibly laundered abroad, or if machinery is not fully utilized to its potential. It further asks if SBP followed up to oversee the utilization of the loans. The Committee has set a 2-week deadline for resolving the issues of outstanding benefits for the remaining employees of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL). 
Furthermore, the Committee plans to write to the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan, requesting urgent daily hearings on the review petition related to the non-disbursement of pensions for over 10,000 aggrieved former National Bank’s employees. The Committee sought information about the technical supplementary grant being given to the one window Special Initiative Facilitation Council (SIFC). On the topic of the Afghan Transit Trade Project for cargo monitoring and tracking, FBR officials clarified that the Committee’s concerns were already addressed in the newly approved policy, which relaxes criteria for company participation in the September 2023 bidding process. The Committee also highlighted the challenges faced by the real estate sector, with a focus on the impact of the amendments introduced by the Finance Act, 2023. The introduction of Section 7E has halted activity in the sector, discouraging new buyers and putting approximately 4 million industry-associated jobs at risk.
The meeting was attended by MNAs/members of the Committee; Chaudhary Khalid Javed, Ali Pervaiz, Dr. Nafisa Shah, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Salahuddin Ayubi, Salahuddin Ayubi, Makhdoom Syed Sami-ul-Hassan Gillani, Nasir Iqbal Bosal, Ch. Muhammad Barjees Tahir. Ms. Kishwer Zehra, MNA/mover was also present in the meeting. The meeting was also attended by the senior officers from Finance Division, M/o Law and Justice, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) and representatives from all the chambers of commerce and industry.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt