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Self-employment scheme for promoting self-reliance: CM: Akhuwat chief calls scheme a ‘silent revolution’

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LAHORE: The Chief Minister Self-Employment Scheme is aimed at promoting self-reliance through utilisation of skills and that interest-free loans worth Rs5.5 billion have so far been distributed under this scheme and 350,000 families have benefitted from it, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said. 
According to a handout, the chief minister said that Rs6 billion would be given during next five years for the provision of interest-free loans under this scheme and that 2 million families would benefit from it. 
He expressed these views while addressing a ceremony to distribute interest-free loans among women under the Chief Minister’s Self-Employment Scheme arranged by Akhuwat, a non-government organisation, at Alhamra Hall on Tuesday. Provincial Minister for Industries Ch Muhammad Shafiq, Minister for Women Development Hamida Wahiduddin, Punjab Educational Endowment Fund Vice Chairman Dr Amjad Saqib, who is chief executive of Akhuwat, senior officials and a large number of women attended the ceremony.
Chief Minister Shahbaz said that the ratio of repayment of loans under this scheme was 100 percent whereas Rs300 billion loans had been written off on political grounds in this country. He said that corrupt system would have to be rooted out for the survival, progress and prosperity of the country. 
He said a country could not be called a welfare state where influential persons get their loans written off whereas skilled persons are compelled to beg. He said that the obsolete system would have to be changed through collective wisdom and concerted efforts whereas hard work and honesty would have to be adopted to make Pakistan a welfare state in real sense.
He said that the self-employment scheme had changed the course of history as 350,000 families had become self-reliant because of provision of interest-free loans. He said that merit, transparency and proper utilisation of national wealth had been ensured in Punjab. 
The chief minister said that the Punjab Educational Endowment Fund was a revolutionary programme of the provincial government that was helping over 50,000 poor yet talented students in studying at prestigious institutions. He said that disparity between the poor and the rich was a hurdle in the process of progress and development and equitable distribution of wealth has to be ensured.
The chief minister said that women form half of Pakistan’s population and the goal of national progress and prosperity could be achieved only by bringing them into the national mainstream. He said that women would have to work shoulder to shoulder along with men and play their due role in all sectors of life. 
Chief Minister Shahbaz said that the government was working hard under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for resolving energy crisis and bringing the country out of the quagmire of problems. He said that China was extending all-out help to Pakistan to overcome electricity shortage. Due to criminal negligence of former rulers, he said, the machinery of Nandipur power plant kept rusting at the Karachi Port for about three years and now an additional amount of Rs27 billion would have to be spent on this project. He said that generation of 550MW of electricity would start from next month in a phased manner. 
The chief minister appreciated the efforts of Dr Amjad and his team with regard to self-employment scheme and said that the minimum limit of interest-free loan be raised from Rs20,000 to Rs40,000. Addressing the ceremony, Minister Shafiq said that the self-employment scheme was reflective of Shahbaz Sharif’s love for the masses. Akhuwat Chief Executive Dr Amjad praised the grant of interest-free loans to women under the self-employment scheme and called it a historic day. He said that the system of interest-free loan was a silent revolution, which would yield its results within next few years.  Later, the chief minister gave cheques of interest-free loans to women. 

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