While the State Bank expects high professional standards from commercial banks, it is appalling to visit one of its branch offices, especially the one located in Islamabad. Firstly there is no proper parking space for hundreds of people who visit it. The staff is outright rude, especially those dealing with prize bonds. It takes 3 visits to collect a prize. The first visit is for filing a claim (average time 20-25 minutes per person, including senior citizens). The second visit is for collecting the prize money. And finally a third visit is required for collecting the certificate for income tax deducted from the prize money.

There is no transparency either. While the highest prizes are in tens of millions of Rupees, no one ever hears in the press who the lucky winners are. Compare this with lotteries in Western countries, where the winnings are heavily publicised. The sale of prize bonds is stopped 2 months before the date of the draw. What is the logic in holding them back in the bank’s vault? Lastly 15% tax is deducted from the winnings, irrespective of whether the winners are filers of income tax returns or not. This is totally contrary to the Governments stated policy.

P S AHMED,

Islamabad, June 7.