LAHORE-National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President Arif Usmani has said that, NBP is ready to support young entrepreneurs having innovative ideas. He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday.  Elaborating his point, he said that like developed world, the bank is set to support the private sector and wishes to establish an Angel Investment Fund in collaboration with LCCI to support the new businesses. 

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mian Tariq Misbah, Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan, SAARC Chamber of Commerce President Iftikhar Ali Malik, Former Presidents Mian Misbah-Ur-Rehman, Tahir Javed Malik, Abdul Basit, Almas Hyder, LCCI executive Committee Members were also present on the occasion.  He said NBP, in cooperation with private sector, particularly LCCI wants to develop a bankable and viable structure for increasing the lending to the Housing sector, adding, in this regard, 4 to 5 nominated representative of private sector should work in collaboration with NBP to developing this financing structure.  As compared to other Banks, The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is affected more by the COVID-19 outbreak. This is because NBP being a state owned Bank has given loans to more diverse kinds of businesses as compared to private Banks.

Arif Usmani said that, an angel investment fund should be established at LCCI to support the young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. NBP intends to cooperate with the private sector to have a better understanding of the complexities of the Housing Sector. There is immense potential for growth in the housing sector of Pakistan, Usmani said, NBP is taking various measures for improving its technology. This would help to control mismanagement. NBP is also striving to increase its financing its agriculture sector as it is a very important sector of our economy.

 LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah said, COVID-19 has adversely affected the Pakistan’s economy as our growth rate has shrunk to negative 0.4 per cent. The businesses are facing severe liquidity issues. There are a large number of businesses who are not able to clear their bank liabilities in time and their names are included in Electronic Credit Information Bureau (eCIB). Mian Tariq Misbah said that “we recommend that you should take up this matter with State Bank of Pakistan to relax this directive”, adding  the State Bank’s recent initiative of deferring the payment of principal amount on loans for one year should be extended till June 2021. This would enable the businesses to recover from the adverse impact of COVID-19 and normalize their operations. 

He said we are well aware of the fact that heavy Government borrowing crowds out the private sector in Pakistan. Our private sector credit to GDP ratio is at 17 per cent which is the lowest in the region. The SMEs only get 6.4 per cent of private sector financing, while the number of SME borrowers are just around 189,000 in Pakistan. He recommended that National Bank in collaboration with relevant Government Institutions should facilitate SMEs through innovative financing schemes at low mark-up rates with minimal collateral requirement. This would enable SMEs to play a vital role in enhancing the exports of our country, he added.

LCCI Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan urged the NBP to introduce a specialized financial product with lowest mark-up rate for the facilitation of affected businessmen of recent fire incident at Hafeez Centre. This special window from National Bank would enable them to quickly revive their business activities.