ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar on Tuesday chaired a meeting to review the performance of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF).

PPAF CEO Qazi Azmat Isa briefed the minister on the progress that Prime Minister’s Interest Free Loan Scheme had made under the banner of PPAF. The meeting was informed that with an allocation of Rs3.5 billion, the scheme had managed to attract total 207720 borrowers by end of August 2016.

These include 127,697 (61 percent) women and 80,023 (39 percent) males. It was told that up to Rs50, 000/- were given to each borrower under the scheme and the amount had a 99 percent recovery rate. It was further informed that with 26 partner organisations, PPAF was presently disbursing interest free loans in 44 districts and 287 union councils, and that the total amount disbursed till the end of August 2016 had reached Rs4.518 billion.

It was also told that underdeveloped areas were targeted for the purpose; the areas with low socio-economic indicators; high food insecurity and low or no coverage by conventional micro-finance. It was also disclosed that not only loans were provided but business advisory services were also offered under the scheme. A borrower graduates from dependency to sufficiency and then his/her links are established with microfinance institutions and markets. It is an all encompassing scheme where people are dealt with respect and guidance is provided on each step and a social change automatically comes into effect.

Dar appreciated the work done by the PPAF so far to further the PM’s Interest Free Loan Scheme.

He expressed the desire that every effort should be made to increase the total volume of loans extended.

He felt jubilant to note that the scheme was presently covering 61 percent females. “The success of the scheme speaks volumes about the hard work and commitment by the government to the people of Pakistan,” the minister said, and added, “The scheme will bring a quality difference in the lives of people.”

He assured the PPAF of his support in its efforts to make the scheme more effective. Senior officials of the Economic Affairs Division and Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.