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NA body recommends to keep agri credit interest rate at single digit

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance recommended on Wednesday to bring down the interest rate on agriculture loans by Zarai Taraqiati Bank (ZTBL) to single digit.

Considering the current rate charged by the ZTBL of 18 per cent as totally unjust and high, the committee unanimously agreed and recommended that the mark up rate should be brought down to single digit.

The meeting of the committee was presided over by its Chairman Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh here today.

Parliamentary Secretary on Finance, Rana Afzaal said that after the 18th amendment, agriculture sector had been devolved to the provinces, therefore the provinces should also be bound to increase subsidy on the agriculture credits.

He also proposed that the committee should recommend the provinces to establish their Agricultural banks for the purpose of offering loans on subsidized rates.

Jehangir Khan Tarin said lowering the interest rate by ZTBL for poor farmers would help in improving production of major crops which would ultimately result in enhanced exports of the country.

Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan was of the view that the ZTBL receives amount from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the rate of only 5.75 per cent then why it lends the money on such a higher rate.

A ZTBL official informed the committee that they had to bear services cost of 4 per cent. However he added that efforts were under way to reduce the services cost by 2 per cent by investing an amount of Rs 3 billion in technology.

He said this project would result in automation of the system which would ultimately reduce the services cost.

Meanwhile Director General National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed the Committee about the inquiry status with regard to NBP Bangladesh scam.

He said that NAB has completed his work for launching reference against the accused. However, its final approval was awaited from the executive board and Chairman NAB.

He added that NAB would be able to register the references in the court after two weeks. The Committee urged the NAB to expedite its process in this regard.

The Committee unanimously decided that a letter would be written to Chairman NAB for quick disposal of the matter. The Committee was informed by the President, NBP regarding their efforts for recoveries of funds in this regard.

Maqsood, Fawad. NA body recommends to keep agri credit interest rate at single digit. Business Recorder, March 16, 2017.

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