Shehbaz Sharif announces interest free loans for small farmers375 views
LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday announced interest-free loans worth Rs 100 billion for small farmers.
Addressing the signing ceremony of agreements between the Punjab government and banks with regard to provision of interest free loans to small cultivators in the Chief Minister’s office, he said that interest on these loans would be paid by the Punjab government.
He said that large number of farmers would benefit from this unique and splendid programme in the history of the country. Shehbaz said that interest-free loans would be distributed among small farmers through modern technology and this programme would help in development of agriculture sector and prosperity of farmers.
He said that agriculture was backbone of national economy and a guarantee to national prosperity and increase in exports besides being a source of earning foreign exchange.
The CM said that with the grace of Almighty Allah prosperity of farmers would result in prosperity of Pakistan and strengthening of national economy.
He said that revolutionary programme started by the government for the uplift of farmers, promotion of agriculture sector and increase in per acre yield would realize the dream of agriculture progress.
He said that though the former rulers were associated with agriculture but they paid no attention to the development of this sector.
Historic decision of provision of interest free loans of 100 billion rupees had been taken by Punjab government in the tenure of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, he added.
Shehbaz Sharif said that due to this step of the government, the sit-ins on Mall Road would now stop as the Punjab government has given this package for the prosperity of small cultivators.
The Chief Minister said that farmers and agri economy suffered a loss during last three years, rice and cotton crop was damaged while recession in international markets also affected the local farmers.
He said that in view of the losses suffered by cultivators, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif gave a big package of Rs 40 billion and Punjab government contributed 50 percent share.
He said that a compensation of Rs 5000 per acre was given to small farmers for losses caused to rice and cotton crops. He said that federal government announced a big griculture package in the budget this year as well which was being speedily implemented.
He said that small cultivators were fully benefiting from reduction in the prices of fertilizers and in power tariff on agri tube-well.
The CM said that Punjab government has also given its share of 50 percent in this package besides also announced historic package of 100 billion rupees for the development of agriculture sector.
The Chief Minister said that implementation of the package of Rs 50 billion has been started this year while agreement has been signed with the banks for the programme of provision of interest-free loans of Rs 100 billion.
He said that it has been the point of view of cultivators that loans were given to industries and investors at the interest rate of 8 to 9 percent while these were given to cultivators at the rate of 16 percent.
He said that the farmers have been demanding that loans should be given to them on 8 to 9 percent interest rate as well while the government has evolved the programme of provision of interest free loans to small cultivators.
He said that Punjab government itself was bearing the burden of interest on the loans given to small cultivators. He said that besides small cultivators, tenants would also benefit from this programme as have no land of their own.
He said that this programme of the government would rid the farmers of exploitation by middle man as well as the existing cruel system.
Addressing the bankers present at the function, the Chief Minister said that bankers always think before extending loans that it should be given to a wealthy person who could repay the loan while the history was witness to the fact that elite got loans of billions of rupees written off and not those who earn their livelihood through hard work.
Shehbaz Sharif said that loans worth Rs 25 billion had been distributed among 1.1 million persons under Khadim-e-Punjab Rozgar Scheme and their rate of recovery was 99.9 percent.
He said that no country could progress without promoting small business and the developed countries had also progressed through adopting this programme.
Referring to Khadim-e-Punjab Rural Roads Programme, the Chief Minister said that ‘Pakkian Sarkan Sukhay Panday’ programme was continuing successfully for the last two years and a sum of Rs 60 billion had been spent on this programme of construction and rehabilitation of rural roads.
He said that carpeted roads were being constructed in villages first time in the history of the country and this programme would change rural economy.
Similarly, he said that the biggest potable water programme had been started in the history of the country and this project had been initiated from south Punjab. He said that a sum of Rs 30 billion was being spent on this programme this year.
Shehbaz Sharif said that international companies were coming for implementation of this programme and German and European consultant monitoring implementation process. He said that water supply and drainage schemes in the past could not be successful but the schemes started by Punjab government would run successfully as the companies which were starting these schemes would operate them for five years and also train the rural youth for this purpose.
The Chief Minister congratulated Provincial Minister for Agriculture, Secretary Agriculture, Chief Secretary and their entire team for evolving the programme of provision of interest-free loans to small cultivators and also thanked financial institutions for their collaboration.
He said that this programme would bring about an agri evolution and Pakistan would be able to achieve a dignified status in the comity of nations.
It may be mentioned that initially interest-free loans of Rs 77 billion were to be given to small cultivators but Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif enhanced this amount to Rs 100 billion.
Provincial Minister for Agriculture Dr. Farrukh Javed while addressing the ceremony said that the programme of provision of interest-free loans would bring a soft revolution and change lifestyle of rural people. He said that android mobile phones would also be given to the cultivators through which they would benefit from extension services.
Provincial Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pahsa said that with the grace of Almighty Allah development of agriculture sector would result in strengthening of national economy.
She said that the programme started by Punjab government for the prosperity of small cultivators would be made successful with the collaboration of financial institutions.
Secretary Agriculture Muhammad Mehmood gave details of the programme. He said that loans would be given to small farmers at the annual rate of Rs 65,000 per acre for Kharif and Rabi crops.
He said that Interest-free loan would be given in three instalments adding that Khadim-e-Punjab Agriculture Endowment Fund has been set up with a sum of Rs 2 billion which would benefit thousands of cultivators.
Chief Executive Officer Telenor and Chief Executive Officer of Tameer Bank informed about implementation of the programme.
President National Bank of Pakistan Iqbal Ashraf, Executive Vice President Zarai Taraqiati Bank Riaz-ud-Din, Chief Executive Officer National Rural Support Programme Dr. Rashid Bajwa and President Tameer Bank Ali Riaz Chaudhary signed the documents.
Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmad, Chief Secretary, bankers, agri experts, farmers’ representatives, intellectuals and columnists participated in the ceremony. APP