SBP disburses Rs96 billion under refinance scheme to dilute COVID impact

KARACHI: Dr. Reza Baqir, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has said that so far around 1320 companies availed SBP’s refinance scheme and a sum of Rs96 billion has been disbursed to the applicants during last three months of current fiscal year to dilute adverse impact of COVID-19.

The SBP governor was exchanging views with Presidents of Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sarhad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Multan, Mirpurkhas Chambers and also the FPCCI at a meeting held a day earlier via video link, said a statement issued by Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

The SBP governor said that the refinance scheme was launched as a risk sharing initiative to facilitate SMEs during the ongoing difficult times and minimize the negative impact on numerous businesses caused by the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

He was of the opinion that this meeting via video link with the business and industrial community of entire Pakistan should be held regularly on monthly basis so that the SBP could better understand business community’s requirements and accordingly devise strategies.

President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, in his remarks, urged the State Bank of Pakistan to publicize details of all the companies who have availed SBP’s refinance scheme with a view to make this scheme transparent otherwise, it is likely that the banks will be accused of giving loans to their favorites and undeserving in future.

He further stated that several public sector organizations including the State Bank of Pakistan have been following dissimilar definitions for SMEs that creates a lot of confusion and needs to be clarified.

In response, Governor State Bank assured that the issue has been rectified and all the institutions including SBP are following a uniform definition for SMEs which will be shared with KCCI so that they could understand the overall ambit of SME sector.

Agha Shahab said that some highly influential people having good contacts in the banking sector have easy access to financing facilities but a large segment of society remains deprived hence, there is a need to ease the overall criteria and paperwork for loan disbursement so that maximum people could benefit from these facilities and are able to survive in the extremely difficult and extraordinary situation being suffered by the business community of entire Pakistan.

“SBP’s refinance facility offers loans at an attractive interest rate of just 3 percent but many people simply don’t want to pay any interest as it is strictly prohibited in Islam. Hence, the State Bank must look into the possibility of launching another refinance facility with zero percent markup which would certainly provide huge support to the business community in distress”, he added.

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