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YLSís harsh realities... By Ali

17 December, 2013

The Youth Loan Scheme (YLS) initiated by the Prime Minister (PM) is a welcome step and sheds light on the fact that the PM has fulfilled his promise made during the election days. There can be no two opinions about the tremendous and positive turnaround that may materialise in the foreseeable future but only after the strict preconditions have been removed. The innocent youth is jubilant over the scheme without prior knowledge of these preconditions attached to the scheme. Though the initiative taken by the present government may prove result-oriented and help the youth to prosper but the harsh conditions must be done away with.

The day the announcement was made, the anxious youth started rushing towards the regional offices of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) to get detailed information and forms for the scheme. Under this YLS, 15,000 individuals aged between 21 and 45 will be provided loans from rupees one to 20 lacs through a lucky draw. At first it was announced that the youth applying for loans will have to pay the mark-up of eight percent while the remaining seven percent will be paid by the government itself. But it is now revealed that the government intends to offer these loans through the Islamic banking system to avoid the un-Islamic practice of riba (interest). But what about the other disparities attached to the scheme? Production of guarantee by a person, relative or other, having bank balance is one such hurdle in the way of availing the opportunity.

In a society where we see hunger and poverty everywhere, where there is a great difference between the haves and have-nots, who will be generous enough to provide such a guarantee for a person coming from a poor segment of society? It appears that the scheme will benefit only the influential people. If this scheme was really meant for the youth belonging to the poor class, it would have been made easier to access. Similar schemes were also introduced in the past but either laden with complicated procedures and formalities or had been in the grip of corruption mafia that seemed to disburse such loans to their favourites or ones paying illegal gratification to the lending officials. All such ugly things will not be tolerated anymore. The PM needs to declare a clear mechanism to plug the loopholes as well.

SYED ALI QASIM
Lahore

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