QUETTA -  State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra on Monday criticised the stakeholders for their poor performance in Balochistan and said that statistics of financial institutions in the province were not encouraging.

This parameter of enactment cannot be kept unremitting, the SBP governor said while talking to presidents and chief executive officers of private banks here. He said the SBP would extend all possible financial assistance to stakeholders in Balochistan for economic growth. He said that banks had intensified financial activity after improvement in the law and order situation and upsurge in commercial activity.

For a close link between senior officials and representatives of the chambers of commerce and industry, Wathra said, the SBP had launched a series of meetings. Earlier, such meetings were held in Peshawar, Multan and Lahore where challenges facing the industry and the public in the unprivileged areas were discussed and performance of banks was evaluated.

The governor praised the banks for boosting commercial activity and highlighted banks’ role in enhancing economic activity after a significant improvement in the overall law and order as well as power generation in the country. He said the SBP would address all issues falling within its ambit on priority. He said that people would have to be educated about targets and action points set for commercial banks. All banks, Wathra said, should come up with three-year business plans at the minimum and increase the number of branchless banking agents. He said that efforts were under way to increase the number of B2B accounts inside the existing network and automated teller machines (ATMs). He asked the presidents and CEOs to point out the areas of the province having inadequate banking facilities so that banks could access those areas. He directed the banks to give preference to hiring of indigenous people at their branches.

Earlier, Wathra said that work on development projects under the CPEC was in progress. He said that accelerated work coupled with commercial activity would make Balochistan and entire Pakistan prosperous. He dispelled the impression that Balochistan had been declared a red zone for issuance of loans to traders and industrialists. He however said that all banks would financially assist trade and industry in the province.

Also on Monday, the SBP governor held a meeting with Balochistan Chamber of Trade and Industry Quetta President Haji Abdul Wadood Achakzai and other members of his team. He said the Afghan banking system was moving in the right direction, though it was not making progress due to security reasons. He said that an agreement had been reached with Iran on the banking system. The pact will be inked next month in Washington. He said that steps would be taken to establishing branches of the National Bank of Pakistan in Taftan, Badini and other areas to facilitate traders and common people of neglected areas. Wathra said that no obstacles would be tolerated in the way of cold storage, property and shop financing.