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PM approves Rs 3.5 billion interest-free loan scheme

* Loans up to Rs 50,000 will be provided to 1 million people across country * Half of the beneficiaries will be women * Disbursement of loans will start in third week of June * Provinces will get their share as per the NFC Award

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday approved a Rs 3.5 billion interest-free loan scheme for the public ‘to provide an impetus to the economic activities in the country’.
Under the scheme, interest-free loans up to Rs 50,000 would be provided to 1 million people across country. Half of the beneficiaries will be women, while disbursement of loans will start in third week of June this year. The loans will be disbursed through Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and each federating unit will get its share as per the NFC Award, with primary focus on rural areas. Proper loan centres and business support centres will be set up across country to facilitate the beneficiaries.
The prime minister told a meeting held to review the progress on the interest-free loan scheme that micro finance schemes are the catalysts for political and economic development in any country while micro credit is an instrument of change for the poorest segment of the society, especially women. He said such schemes boost the productive economic activities in the country. “I am convinced that if our youth are given proper guidance and financial support through micro credit schemes and better access to innovative technology, they can play their positive role in development of the country,” he said.
Chairperson Prime Minister Youth Scheme Maryam Nawaz briefed the meeting on progress of other programmes. She told the prime minister that training of selected youth under the PM Youth Skill Development Programme has commenced from May 12. Some 25,000 youth of the less developed areas from all over the country will be imparted training in 100 disciplines under the programme. The duration of training programme is 4-6 months for various disciplines and the programme will cost Rs 800 million. Some 35% quota is allocated for women, keeping in view the government’s policy of empowering the women in the country.
The allocation of seats is according to the population in the federating units, based on the NFC Award. The basic aim of the scheme is to train the youth in different skills in order to make them self-sufficient. The skill development programme is focused to channel the talent and energies of the youth so that they can earn their livelihood and meet the challenges of the modern world, she said. Maryam told the prime minister that the PM Fee Disbursement Scheme would benefit approximately 33,000 eligible students, during the current financial year. The students doing M Phil and PhD from 59 districts will avail provision of tuition fee and other education charges. The government will cover all the expenses, she said.
Briefing the prime minister on the PM Laptop scheme, she said all MS, M Phil and PhD scholars of public sector universities would be eligible. There will be a special quota for disabled, she added. The students would be selected on the basis of their performance, she said. Bright students of polytechnic institutions will also be eligible.
The prime minister was told that the HAIER Electrical Appliances, the company which got the contract, will assemble 10,0000 laptops in Pakistan and from the next year 100% distributed laptops will be assembled in Pakistan. Every laptop will have an Evo device with three months of free internet connection. The company will also offer internship to selected students. The company will establish e-education rooms in two universities where 14 softwares will be installed free of cost. The distribution of laptops will start in June, with first tranche of 10,000 laptops. 
The prime minister said the establishment of assembly plants is a step in the right direction. “I am happy that this scheme was examined and vetted by Transparency International and is being appreciated by them,” he added. The meeting also reviewed arrangements for the second balloting of PM Youth Business Loan Scheme. Maryam said the next balloting of the youth loan scheme will be carried out next month. 

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