Finance minister unveils strategic banking sector initiatives

Banking sector initiatives

News Desk

Karachi – May 20: Federal Minister for Finance Muhammad Aurangzeb has unveiled strategic initiatives aimed at bolstering support for Pakistan’s key sectors: agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and digital technology, according to a press release.

He shared the salient features of the initiative with bankers, economists and experts at a meeting with top bankers, convened by the Pakistan Banks’ Association (PBA) the other day, highlighting the banking sector’s commitment to advancing financial inclusion and fostering economic growth nationwide.

In his opening remarks, the minister underscored the collaborative effort from the entire banking sector to contribute effectively to these priority sectors, emphasizing voluntary targets rather than directed lending. He called upon banks to align their strengths with the nation’s developmental goals and work in tandem with the government to revitalise and propel the economy forward.

Chairman PBA, Zafar Masud, alongside steering committee members, including Vice-Chairman, Ahmed Bozai, CEO & SG, Muneer Kamal, Executive Director (Financial Inclusion Group) State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Syed Irfan Ali; and President & CEO Meezan Bank, Irfan Siddiqui, presented a set of recommendations aimed at promoting sustainable growth within each sector. These proposals, developed in consultation with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), outlined actionable steps to address sector-specific challenges and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

In the agriculture sector, recommendations included restructuring crop loan insurance schemes, revitalizing agricultural cooperative banks, and leveraging technology for targeted subsidy distribution to subsistence-level farmers, thereby promoting financial inclusion.

For SMEs, initiatives focused on providing financial and management support through entities like the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) and enhancing regulatory frameworks to facilitate financing.

On the Digital & Technology front, proposals included facilitating retail foreign investment, integrating freelancers into payment gateways, and enhancing foreign remittance flows through online portals, in addition to harnessing technology for documenting the economy.

The minister lauded the steering committee for their efforts and stressed the pivotal role of the banking community in driving economic growth. He endorsed the proposed governance structure for implementing these recommendations, spearheaded by his ministry, SBP, and PBA.

Zafar Masud expressed full commitment to collaborating with the government and SBP in implementing these initiatives, ensuring the banking sector’s effective contribution to Pakistan’s economic prosperity.

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