LAHORE - Chief Minister’s Self Employment Scheme is a revolutionary programme of poverty alleviation, controlling unemployment and making the poor stand on their feet in a dignified manner.

These views were expressed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif while addressing at the ceremony held to distribute cheques to the needy under CM Self Employees Scheme at Badshahi Mosque yesterday.

“Interest-free loans to the tune of Rs 17billion have been given to over 8.5lakh families over the last few years under the scheme”, the chief minister added.

The chief minister kick started distribution of Rs one billion interest free loans among 25,000 families of the province. The Scheme is due to distribute loans worth Rs 40 billion among 20 lakh families over the next three years to make them self-reliant. The repayment ratio under the scheme, run with the cooperation of an NGO Akhuwat, has been record 99.99 per cent.

Provincial Ministers, legislators, intellectuals, columnists and thousands recipients of interest-free loans were present on the occasion.

Shahbaz Sharif said that on the one hand there are such great Pakistanis and the builders of the nation who are working hard to achieve the goal of national progress and prosperity while on the other hand there are so-called elite who have usurped billions of rupees of the poor nation in the form of loans. He said that those who oppose public welfare programme can do so but the government will continue to serve the masses.

He said all out efforts would be made to eliminate poverty, ignorance and unemployment from the country. The chief minister said that billions of rupees more will be provided for the betterment of those who are striving for progress and development of the country.

Shahbaz Sharif addressing the poor recipients said that such patriotic and great Pakistanis are present whose hard working is largely contributing to the progress and prosperity of the country.

He said that great philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal who gave the idea of Pakistan is buried near Badshahi Mosque and he believed in strong determination and continuous efforts.

Shahbaz Sharif further said that there is Minar-e-Pakistan in front of Badshahi Mosque where historic Pakistan Resolution was adopted under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for achieving a separate state where there was supremacy of justice and law and equal rights and opportunities of progress were available to all citizens.

He said that though an independent country had been achieved, the objectives for Pakistan creation have not yet been materialized through 68 years have passed since independence. He said that if a strong resolve is made to transform Pakistan into a welfare state in the real sense.

He said that though it is difficult task but not impossible. The Chief Minister said that collective efforts are needed for national development and prosperity and it is the only way to move ahead.

The chief minister said on the one hand there are such elements as have looted the hard-earned money of the poor masses through getting their loans written of and as such destroyed national economy while on the other hand there are such patriotic Pakistanis as have received interest-free small loans but are trying to strengthen the foundations of the country.

Shahbaz Sharif said that a revolving fund of one billion rupees was established under the Scheme that has now reached a sum of five billion rupees. He said that such welfare programmes will be continued for raising the living standard of poor masses and deprived segments of the society. He said Pakistanis are very talented and hard working and they will spare no effort to make the country a welfare state.

Executive Director Akuwat Organization Dr Amjad Saqib highlighted the aims and objectives of the Scheme and said that interest free loans are being given irrespective of any consideration of religion, sect, political affiliation, caste and creed. He said that provision of interest-free loans in the biggest programme of Qarz-e-Hasna in the world through which Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif is giving hope to the people.

Dr Amjad Saqib of Akhuwat said giving interest-free loans in mosque is splendid tradition which should be promoted. He said that public welfare programme for the poor are proving very useful as a large number of people is benefiting from them.

Senior journalist Mujeebur Rehman Shami congratulated the CM on this successful Scheme.

The persons who got interest-free loans paid tributes to Shahbaz Sharif on this splendid programme. A poor lady Safia Bibi while narrating her story during the ceremony said that interest free loans has changed her life and now she has stood on her feet. She said that her children are living honourably and all this was possible due to the provision of interest free loan.

She said that Chief Minister’s Self Employment Scheme is a source of help for resource-less. She thanked Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who started provision of interest free loans and helped resource-less persons like her.

Ramazan who obtained interest free loan said that due to the provision of interest free loan of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, he has been able to earn livelihood honourably and thanked Almighty Allah that now he is living honourably.

He said that Shahbaz Sharif deserves appreciation on launching Chief Minister’s Self Employment Scheme.