The Nation (Pakistan) - Online Edition
Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - Zilhaj 27, 1422

President for investment in micro-finance

ISLAMABAD (APP)–President General Pervez Musharraf on Monday urged the private entities to invest in Micro-finance sector as the Government has created a conducive policy and supporting mechanism for the sector. “It is now up to the private entities to take advantage of the favourable policies the Government has developed,” the President said here at the inauguration of the first Micro-Finance Bank in private sector.

The main sponsors and shareholders of the bank are Agha Khan Rural Support Programme and Agha Khan Fund for Economic Development. Federal Ministers, diplomates, high ranking civil and military officials and prominent personalities from private financial sector attended the ceremony. The President said that Micro-Finance sector is being vitalised to alleviate poverty from Pakistan. “Since day one my Government is working on poverty alleviation and we have developed encouraging policies and supporting mechanism for Micro-finance sector in a short span of time.” Gen Musharraf paid rich tribute to Prince Karim Aga Khan for taking very keen interest in poverty alleviation in Pakistan and his involvement and commitment to Pakistan. He said poverty alleviation was one of the four areas initially the Government had identified to address. “Poverty alleviation found the focus right from day one besides economic revival.”

The President said the real poverty alleviation will come from the economic revival of the country. He appreciated the efforts of Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and his Ministry to formulate Micro-Finance policies in a short span of time and for implementing the policies expeditiously.

The President said Government has adopted indirect and direct policies to alleviate poverty from Pakistan. Indirect means the promotion of agriculture sector, establishment of small and medium enterprises, he added. He said direct support we are providing through distribution of Zakat Fund among the poorest of the poor with a new strategy of providing funds, enabling them to establish their own business. The President said Khushhal Pakistan programme is also one of the main strategic moves to provide jobs besides uplift of the area with new development projects. President Musharraf said Khushhali Bank is another project for poverty reduction and the branches of the bank have been established in 30 districts in a very short period. He said the bank is providing facilities to 100,000 homes that means a 500,000 people. The President said that Government was also restructuring the Agriculture Development Bank of Pakistan to mainly focus on rural economy. “Unfortunately, the ADBP, so far, has provided loans to the richest land lords which should have gone to the poor.” He said I greatly value Prince Karim Aga Khan’s gesture to support Pakistan’s Government in its endeavour to alleviate poverty. Prince Karim Aga Khan appreciated the bold steps taken by President General Musharraf and said, “This will pave the way for brighter future for Pakistan and Muslim Ummah.”

He said in the recent past the ability of Islamic world to come up with solutions to the complexed problems has been proved. Agha Khan shared the vision of President Musharraf to address the root causes of the problems in Asia. “The Micro-Finance Bank in Pakistan will be one of the steps to address these root causes.”

Prince Karim Aga Khan said that he was also planning to initiate Micro-Finance Bank project in Afghanistan. He appreciated the policies of President Musharraf and said that facilities for Micro-Finance sector is yet another sign of Government’s steadfast support given to this sector.

He said the project of Micro-Finance Bank is aimed at poverty alleviation through sustainable economic development. “We want to give the people sound and secure future with dignity and pride and not merely for survival,” he said. In his welcome address, Chairman Micro Finance Bank Sultan Allana said that the project of Aga Khan Development Fund is to meet the task of poverty alleviation. He said Pakistan Government recognised the fact and formulated the policies and this Micro Finance Bank will prove to be truly responsive to the aim of poverty alleviation.