ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary committee on Wednesday directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to pay back the deposited amounts to all those who had contributed for “Qarz Utaro Mulk Swanro” move in 1997.

Senate standing committee on finance asked the SBP to start awareness campaign in media to let people know and take back the amounts they had contributed as Qarz Hasna for the National Debt Retirement Program (NDRP).

The central bank, on the other hand, in a statement on Wednesday, said as of now an amount of only Rs12 million (approx) has not been en-cashed/reclaimed by the depositors. It informed the depositors that they can approach their respective banks for encashment of their deposits under NDRP-II (Qarz-e-Hasna).

National Bank of Pakistan deputy governor informed the Senate committee chaired by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, that the process of paying back the money of Qarz Utaro Mulk Snwaro scheme had already been started.

The Standing Committee in January 2017 had asked the SBP to devise a mechanism for getting back the money that was contributed as Qarz-e-Hasna.

The government had launched NDRP to pay off the ever increasing national debt in 1997. Funds in NDRP were accepted from individuals, firms, companies and institutions etc as Donations (NDRP-I), Qarz-e-Hasna (NDRP-II) and Term Deposit (NDRP-III). The government had collected a total amount of Rs2.805 billion – Rs1.2 billion in local currency and $178 million in foreign currency.

Out of the total amount, Rs2.032 billion was collected under NDRP-I as donations, which were non-refundable. While Rs470.659 million were collected under NDRP-II as Qarz-e-Hasna and Rs302.540 million under NDRP-III as term deposit. The deposits under NDRP-II and NDRP-III were both refundable and these were for a minimum period of two years.

Out of total collected amount of Rs2.805 billion the government had retired Rs1.7 billion debt, leaving behind a balance of Rs1.105 billion.

The committee also discussed the case of Rs1.5 billion fraud in Abandoned Properties Organisation, a government body. The officials of NBP, HBL and Abandoned Properties Organisation were involved in the fraud, and they had withdrawn Rs1.5b in 24 transactions in two years.

The HBL officials informed the committee that they had terminated those HBL employees who were involved in the scam. National Bank president informed that NBP had arrested the regional manager of the bank and investigations against other officials were underway.

FIA Director Altaf Hussain informed  they had received Rs260 million from the culprits of the scam. The FIA had also confiscated 47 properties where the looted money was invested. He further informed that one of the accused had died, as he looted Rs280 million in this scam.

The committee also discussed a scam of Rs12 billion in United Bank Limited. SBP deputy governor said that only Rs33 million losses was inflicted through trading of illiquid shares.

Additional Secretary of Finance Ministry informed that government had allocated Rs1.66 billion for the ministry. However, it had released only Rs770 million so far. Furthermore, the government had also released Rs48 million as supplementary budget for finance ministry. The committee chairman showed concern on the supplementary budget by saying why government every year released money as supplementary grants.

The parliamentary committee also discussed 162 clauses of the companies bill 2017. It has decided to hold next meeting on companies bill in Lahore in which all relevant stakeholders would be invited for their viewpoint.

Staff Reporter from Karachi adds: Out of total receipts of Rs1.2 billion in local currency collected under National Debt Retirement Programme, Rs823 million were donations and Rs408 million were in the form of Qarz-e-Hasna and term deposits.

Similarly, out of total foreign currency (FCY) receipts of $178 million, $28 million was donations and remaining $150 million was Qarz-e-Hasna and term deposits. The NBP says that almost all FCY deposits have been repaid.

At the time of collection, the depositors were issued a receipt/certificate against deposits under NDRP-II by banks whereas Special Saving Certificates (SSC)/Defence Saving Certificates (DSC) were issued against deposits under NDRP-III by Central Directorate of National Savings, Ministry of Finance.

After the maturity, the depositors were able to encash their amounts at par in case of NDRP-II and as per terms and conditions of SSC/DSC for deposits under NDRP-III. While the term deposits (NDRP III) are en-cashable from Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS), the Qarz-e-Hasna (NDRP II) certificates can be en-cashed from the commercial banks where the amounts were deposited.

The SBP said all the depositors are thus once again informed that they can approach their respective banks along with the original receipt/certificate for encashment of their deposits under NDRP-II (Qarz-e-Hasna).

The commercial banks have also been advised to facilitate the claimants and encash the deposits after due verification in accordance with respective rules and procedures. The banks after making the payments will claim reimbursement from SBP against the deposit of paid documents and instruments etc.

The SBP have also informed the public through a press release on March 29, 2017 to approach their respective banks to get their certificates en-cashed. There are still complains that the depositors are facing difficulties in encashment of the certificates.