PESHAWAR - While appreciating business loan scheme for youth, a number of youth seeking support from Prime Minister Loan Scheme Sunday demanded of the government to make procedure and criteria simple of the scheme to enable a large number of people to take benefit from it.

The programme has broad canvas of schemes enabling youth and poor segments of population to get good opportunities of employment, economic empowerment, acquiring skills needed for gainful employment, spreading use of computers and imparting on-the-job training for young graduates to improve the probability of getting a productive job.

Under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme, a loan ranging from Rs 0.1 million to Rs 2 million has been offered to youth with age from 21 years to 45 years at the mark-up rate of 8 per cent. The loan would be recovered in a period of eight years in equal monthly instalments.

The fund would be disbursed among the youth on soft terms and conditions and instead of employees it would help turn make them employers. The youth are jubilant and taking keen interest in the scheme and the visiting of the large number of youth for seeking information is ample proof of that tremendous response. Dozens of youth have been witnessed visiting the special desk established in the Regional Office, Small & Medium Enterprise Development Authority (Smeda).

Talking to this scribe, a youth Mohammad Imran appreciated the scheme for empowering the youth. However, he called for the creation of awareness in the people and further softening of the terms and conditions of the scheme.

He complained that the criterion of the scheme is not clear that who can take benefit from the scheme while the residents of the far-flung areas are totally ignorant of it. He urged the government for the devolution of the scheme from provincial level to district level and removal of the doubts among youth.

Ahmad Gul, another youth, said that he is anxiously desirous for taking benefit of the scheme but he has no gazetted officer in his family. He said that due to such difficult terms and conditions potential youth would failed in taking benefit from the scheme. He also stressed need for the softening of the criterion to enable the youth of poor and middle class families to take benefit of it.

A young woman entrepreneur also complained of the strict terms and conditions for the guarantors in the scheme. She said that as compared to men, women would face more difficulties in finding guarantors for obtaining the loan from the scheme.

Meanwhile, tribal elders, politicians and traders have welcomed extending Youth Business loan programme to Fata and said that it would not only curb unemployment among the youths but it will also help eliminate trend of militancy and extremism in the entire tribal areas.

Talking to reporters, the tribal elders and political leaders, including senior leader of PML-N and MNA Shahabuddin Khan, Senator Hidayatullah Khan, PML-N Bajaur President Haji Rahat yousaf, Dr Mohammad Gull pechawal, Malik Mohammad Yar Khan, Malik Abdul Aziz Khan and Abdul Manan Janbaz, lauded the Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif for extended the youth business programme to the tribal areas.

They said expansion of youth business programme to the tribal areas was the right way to provide opportunity to the tribesmen for showing their talent and ability for the economic development of the area. They said the programme would not only help the youth of the tribal areas start their own business but it will also boost the socio-economic condition of the region.

They said that the launching of youth business programme showed that the Prime Minister was devoted to fulfil his election commitments. The elders said that the expansion of youth business programme to Fata would not only curb the unemployment among the youths but it will also help eliminate militancy and extremism in tribal areas.

The elders also demanded of the Prime Minister to launch special development programme for the tribal areas because the areas had been affected by the militancy and war on terrorism.