LAHORE - President Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) Chaudhry Zaka Ashraf on Monday said that bank would be revamped and expanded to accelerate agricultural growth in the country and this year 30 new branches would be opened to provide technical and financial assistance to the farmers. We are focusing on agricultural development by enhancing per acre yield. A comprehensive strategy is underway to accelerate agricultural growth and growers will be mobilised to use modern agri technology for this purpose, Zaka Ashraf told reporters after addressing the gathering of ZTBL employees of Lahore Zone here at Royal Palm Golf and Country Club. Chaudhry Zaka Ashraf said that the ZTBL is striving hard to materialise the vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and President Asif Ali Zardari as welfare of the poor is the motto of the present regime. Elaborating the achievements of the ZTBL, he said that the disbursement of credit increased to Rs 75 billion till June 2009 as compared to Rs 66 billion in 2008 and Rs 56 billion in 2007 respectively. He further said that the recovery of the loans was Rs 70 billion in 2009, which was at Rs 64 billion in 2008 and Rs 57 billion in 2007. The ratio of Non Performing Loans has been reduced to 15 per cent from 32 per cent during the last two years, he maintained. He also said that the present management of the bank is committed to provide all possible resources to the growers to accelerate agriculture development in the country. We are going to introduce bio-diesel by encouraging the growers and the farmers would be given soft loans for switching over to solar and wind energy as it will also substantially cut in agri input cost besides saving electricity in the era of testing times, he added. He said that the banks staff was being provided best professional training and the video-conferencing would also be started in the near future the enhance the professional capability of the ZTBL employees. He said that there would be no compromise on merit and specialists are being inducted to improve the functioning of the bank. We are giving merit and knowledge-based assignments to the officers to achieve the set goals, he added. He said that the Kisan Support Services project would be extended to six other districts of Sindh and Punjab province this year. Earlier, addressing employees of ZTBL he said that the bank recently announced promotions of 1358 employees in officer cadre, which is unprecedented in the banks history. This step will redress the grievances among of officers community of the bank, which had been deprived of since last 25 years by working in the same grade. President ZTBL announced that with hard work of employees at all level, the bank has achieved remarkable results during the last six months. He elaborated that in the first six months credit disbursements was increased by 14 per cent recovery increased by 9 per cent and non-performing loans have dropped by 25 per cent. He said that the deposits have grown by 31 per cent and net profit has increased by 36 per cent when compared with the corresponding period of last year. This trend will continue in the remaining part of the year and the bank will emerge as progressive, futuristic and stable financial institution of Pakistan, he added. He also announced that all the difficulties, grievances and problems of the employees of the banks would be redressed. He declared that the ZTBL would manage the country self-sufficient in food grains. General Secretary Officer Association ZTBL Muhammad Yaqoob Rai, also spoke on this occasion and thanked the President for the promotions of the officers of different cadres.