LAHORE - More than 33,000 applications have been received, which fulfill the criteria of Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme, being delayed mainly due to the government engagement in dialogue process with Taliban.

According to the officials involved in the scrutiny of the applications in National Bank of Pakistan, 1,350 branches of the NBP across the country are receiving about 800 applications on daily basis, which are sent to 400 branches for their processing. Though the First Women Bank is also receiving applications for the PM’s loan scheme, but its ratio is very negligible.

Every application takes up to 15 days to check all details of the applicant and his/her guarantor and then it is sent to the head office of the NBP. The branch does not receive a loan application if it does not fulfil the criteria or misses some detail.

With just 12.52 percent applications from female candidates and 87.48 percent from males, Punjab remains on top, sending 24,902 applications for loan while 3,039 were received from KPK, 857 from Balochistan, 2,125 from Sindh (excluding Karachi), 555 from Karachi, 501 from Islamabad, 100 from Gilgit Baltistan and 506 from AJK, the officials said  They said that 37.76 percent loan aspirants are intermediate, 27 percent below matriculation, 15.83 percent have the qualification of matriculation (secondary school certificate) and 12.58 percent are graduates while just 6.77 percent are master-degree holders.

City-wise analysis of the loan applications shows that Rahim Yar Khan tops the list as 1,568 people have submitted loan request from this city and its neighbouring district of Bahawalpur remains second by posting 1,326 applications.

Bank sources say more applications are coming from rural areas as compared to urban Pakistan, including RY Khan and Bahawalpur from Punjab, Thatta and Karachi East from Sindh and Abotabad, DI Khan, Mardan and Swat from KPK.

About 65 percent applicants have sought loans for agriculture or agri-related and livestock business. Needless to say that livestock has greater potential for growth and has been growing much faster than crop farming for the last one decade.

Due to several harsh conditions, only 4,000 applications had been received. However, after removal of these conditions, 32,000 applications were received by the NBP within one month, the officials said. They said by the time the formal ceremony to approve loans is held, up to 50,000 applications might be received, which would be sent to the PM Secretariat in Islamabad.

PM Youth Business Loan Scheme aims at facilitating 100,000 youth by disbursing loans ranging from Rs 100,000 to Rs 2 million at a markup rate of KIBOR+500 basis points per annum, out of which a fixed rate of 8 percent will be paid by the borrower while the remaining will be borne by the government. Total amount of Rs 100 billion will be distributed in five years while Rs 5 billion has been allocated for the current fiscal year to entertain the applicants.

The NBP officials said they were already encouraging agriculture-related loans as the bank was annually disbursing Rs 40-50 billion to this sector while the percentage of NPLs is not more that 5 percent, which is considered as zero per cent by financial experts.

The government introduced business loan scheme to create jobs as job market is extremely limited due to below 3pc economic growth rate for the last five years. The aim of this scheme is also to increase economic growth rate with the help of young people who can set up their own businesses.