Govt considering regulatory authority for cooperatives
* Rs 4.918b paid back to co-op victims, PA told
LAHORE: Punjab Cooperatives Minister Col (r) Muhammad Anwar told the Punjab Assembly here on Thursday that Rs 4.918 billion had been paid to 203,830 people affected by a cooperative societies scandal, while Rs 8.253 million lost by 97,244 people would be paid within two years.
Replying to a question from opposition MPAs Ehsanullah Waqas and Ali Abbas, the minister said the government is considering forming a regulatory authority to monitor cooperatives and make sure any future scandals are caught and stopped early.
Mr Anwar said the government had for the meantime decided to strictly implement the State Bank of Pakistan Act 1976 and Cooperative Societies Act 1925. He told the house that Mercantile Cooperative, Zamindara and Qudratabad Cooperative have paid back their customers. “Due to limited funds, the government is paying 50 percent to account holders of Rs 0.3 million,” he said.
He said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would recover the rest of the money as soon as possible. The government had asked the State Bank of Pakistan to give loans to people who had lost money through the scandal, but had not received a positive response, he added.
To another question, Mr Anwar said there were 161 branches of the Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank Limited which have loaned Rs 2.56 billion to small farmers at an interest rate of 13 per cent. “The government negotiated with the State Bank to reduce the interest rate so that poor farmers could get loans,” he said.
“Due to the current financial crisis, the bank is not in a position to invest in the housing sector. It has already issued loans of Rs 272.32 million to people for the construction of their houses,” he said.